Getty Images, Dan Kitwood

World news is saying it was unconstitutional for Crimea to vote on joining the Russian Federation. Is there anything in the U.S. Constitution preventing Washington from joining Canada? Or Hawaii declaring itself independent? We looked up the answer!

There was a Supreme Court decision in 1869 that decided a state could NOT unilaterally leave the United States.

The case was called Texas vs. White. During the Civil War, the state of Texas under a Confederate government sold U.S. bonds (given to Texas as part of a compromise in 1850). A guy named White bought the bonds. After the war, the pro-Union government of Texas sued White saying the Confederate government had no right to sell him the bonds.

The Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot legally secede, so any decisions made by the Confederate government were null and void. The case did not rule secession was impossible -- only that a state could not vote to secede.

So in both Crimea and America, a state/province can't vote to leave its country and join another.