Scottish independence vote cheers supporters of Texas secession

By Jim Forsyth SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The upcoming vote to decide whether Scotland should be independent of the United Kingdom has bolstered those campaigning to split the state of Texas from the United States. Texas Nationalist Movement president Daniel Miller, who wants the state's legislature to put the secession question on a statewide ballot, said Scotland's Sept. 18 referendum is a good sign for his movement. "If Scotland can do it, so can Texas," Miller said. The top U.S. cattle- and oil-producing state would be the 12th largest economy in the world, larger than Mexico or Spain, said Miller, whose organization has campaigned for secession since the late 1990s. Miller said Scotland's referendum has increased interest in the Texas movement and the fact that a free Texas would lose big federal institutions like NASA and multiple military bases was of no concern to him. "Win or lose, the Scottish referendum is both serving as a source of inspiration and information about what's happening here in Texas," Miller said. About 20 percent of Texas voters said they would support secession because of President Barack Obama's re-election, and 67 percent were opposed, a January 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found. The state has around 27 million people. Republicans dominate state politics in the Lone Star State, where no Democrat has won statewide in two decades. The survey showed much stronger support for secession among Republicans at 35 percent than Democrats at 7 percent. Texas may be the only state with a movement to cut ties with the nation but several counties in the United States have made attempts at secession. In 2013, five Colorado counties voted in a non-binding referendum to secede from the state and part of rural Maryland announced its intent to split from metropolitan neighbors. Texas is one of only two U.S. states, the other being Hawaii, that were once internationally recognized sovereign nations, with diplomatic ties to other countries. Texas stood on its own as a republic for nearly a decade after the fall of the Alamo in 1836, joining the United States in 1845. It seceded from the union in 1861 and was part of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Miller said Texas has a right to vote for independence under the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment, which guarantees that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the states or the people. But Sanford Levinson, a constitutional scholar at University of Texas School of Law, said the Constitution has no procedure that explicitly allows secession. "Ultimately, it's a political question," he said. It hinges on whether a critical mass of Texans and political leaders would support it and, whether the rest of the country will make a real effort to prevent Texas from leaving, Levinson added. Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said the independence movement was not realistic. "Texas tried to secede 150 years ago and paid a very heavy price for that," Jillson said. (Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Eric Walsh)