The 11 Colorado counties that are voting next month on whether to secede from the state would face formidable constitutional hurdles even should the secessionists succeed.
To wit, Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution stipulates: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”
Ten counties in northeast Colorado would seek to form a new state, centered on oil-rich Weld County, should all of those stars align. Moffat County in far northwest Colorado would explore joining Wyoming.
This is certainly not the first time that disgruntled sections of a state or states have wanted to move on.
As New York Times correspondent Jack Healy wrote in a recent story, “The early 1900s brought a vision for the state of Texlahoma, according to Michael J. Trinklein, who wrote ‘Lost States,’ a book about statehood proposals. In 1939, pieces of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming pushed to become Absaroka. Today, discontented residents in western Maryland, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the mountains of southern Oregon and Northern California are agitating for their own states. And in Illinois, two rural lawmakers have floated the idea of giving the boot to Chicago.”
But the last area to successfully break away from an existing state was West Virginia, from Virginia, at the height of the American Civil War when President Lincoln was looking for all the help that he could get.
Senior reporter Burt Hubbard of I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS analyzed census, budget, crime and voter records to develop profiles of a new 51st state and a truncated Colorado. The analysis found that the remaining state of Colorado would come out a bit ahead financially, in that it spends more in the 11 counties than it receives in returned revenue. The full analysis with the new map (Spoiler alert: Colorado would no longer be a square state!) and charts can be found here.