- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pro-independence Texans weren’t the only ones energized by the vote by Brexit vote.

The California secession movement has been riding a wave of interest since Thursday’s vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The campaign has already gained a Brexit-inspired nickname: Calexit

“We have a lot of people sending us messages and a lot of people want to find our online digital version of our independence referendum,” said Louis Marinelli, who heads the Yes California Independence Campaign. “We have a lot of people who have joined our Facebook page, a lot of people who are talking about this issue on Twitter. The #Calexit hashtag for example has begun organically. There’s another one called #Caleavefornia.”

Yes California, which formed in August after the shuttering of Sovereign California, has been gathering support for an initiative aimed at November 2020 that would begin the process of severing California from the union.

What makes the Brexit vote so important is that it shows secession isn’t just a relic of the 19th century, said Mr. Marinelli.

“This is an example of an independence movement occurring in the Western world, a modern-day, 21st century [case] of a political entity seceding from a political union,” he said. “And so now Californians who hear the word ‘secession,’ they don’t have to think of the Civil War any more. Now they have a modern day example of how it can happen peacefully and legally and constitutionally, and that’s the path and process we intend to mimic here in California.”

He disputes the contention that secession is illegal under the U.S. Constitution, citing the 1869 Supreme Court case Texas v. White, which held that states cannot break away from the union unilaterally.

“The story out there is that states can’t secede, but they can. The problem is they can’t secede unilaterally,” said Mr. Marinelli. “You can’t just declare yourself independent. But if you get the consent of the other states, and there’s a way to do that through the amendment process, then you can do that legally and peacefully.”

The Brexit vote inspired a surge of interest in state independence movements, as well as a rash of nicknames. The Texas Nationalist Movement, the most prominent of the state efforts, has been dubbed Texit, while New Hampshire saw the creation on Twitter of the hashtag #NHexit.

Naturally, the push for Northern Mexico to secede is now #Mexit, while the Quebec independence movement in Canada has been dubbed #Quebexit.

California Governor Jerry Brown may have inadvertently inspired supporters of Calexit by joking in March that if presumptive Republican presidential nominee is elected in November, “we’d have to build a wall around California to defend ourselves from the rest of this country.”

“There’s always an element of truth when people make a joke. And there are certainly a lot of jokes coming from the governor’s office,” said Mr. Marinelli. “So maybe he partially supports this. Who knows? We’ll see what happens.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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