States changing their borders

I see parts of Oregon are talking about leaving Oregon and attaching themselves to Utah. What does it actually take from both states to do this? Is Congress, etc involved at all or is this just a state decision? I know there have been numerous border changes over the years but they seemed fairly local, not entire sections of a state.

Wouldn’t the people in Idaho have a say in that? Oregon isn’t adjacent to Utah.

Idaho, not Utah. The concept is of a new state called Greater Idaho. It is just wild ranting that isn’t even being covered by the major news outlets here in Oregon. It is based in the same sort of reality as declaring our state part of Mars. And has about an equal chance of happening.

Here is a link from Fox News:

from the wiki page Secession in the United States

Article IV, Section. 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitutions provides:

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States 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.

So, the Oregon legislature, the Idaho legislature, and the U.S. Congress all have to approve it.

I believe that the answer to the OP is that Oregon, Idaho, congress, and the president would all have to agree. See Article IV, section 3.1 of the constitution.

In the List of U.S. state partition proposals

In 2020, “Move Oregon’s Border For a Greater Idaho” proposed breaking off most of Oregon’s area and some of Northern California and join it with Idaho. The areas proposed to break off of Oregon and California vote Republican but in a state whose legislatures are dominated by Democrats. Douglas and Josephine counties in Oregon approved language for petitions to put a measure on the ballot. Even if passed by voters, it would still need approval from all three state legislatures.

Does not mention any need for federal involvement.

However, When Wendover, Utah wanted to switch to Nevada, they went to the feds:

In 2002, the United States House of Representatives voted to allow Wendover to leave the state and join Nevada, merging with the city of West Wendover.[94][95] However, Nevada Senator Harry Reid blocked the bill’s consideration in the Senate, citing that it would affect the investments of the casinos in the border town.

If you don’t like the state you’re in, then move. You’ll be happier in the long run. Less complex, achievable by yourself, and you get to flip the bird as you cross the state line.

It may not mention it, but it’s necessary.

If some group of reluctant Oregonians want to become Idahomies, they need Congress and both state legislatures on board.

Make it so that OR and WA businesses are allowed to only pay Idaho residents the minimum wage IN IDAHO and you’ll see half of Idaho trying to attach itself to its neighboring states rather than the other way around. People in Idaho just love having it both ways, they work in Oregon and Washington at damned near twice the minimum wage of their own state, they buy legal weed by the ton then smuggle it back to their cheap houses in their shithole towns. Not a big fan of Idaho, those idiots have brought tons of COVID into Oregon via working at the prison on the OR/ID border while refusing to mask or social distance and now they’re starting to ship the worst COVID cases from overwhelmed Idaho hospitals to burden Oregon and Washington yet AGAIN. What a crappy state–unfortunately the shitty residents are occupying some beautiful landscape and very nice farmland.

IANA Constitutional scholar, but I don’t see any of your conclusion in there.

IMO it says …

  1. If part of Oregon wanted to split off and become the new state of, say, East Oregon, that case is addressed in the first part of Clause 1.

  2. If part of Oregon and part of Idaho wanted to split off from the current Oregon & current Idaho and join together to become FreedumbLandia!!1!, that’s addressed in the second part of clause 1. As is the case of all of Oregon and all of Idaho combining into FreedumbLandia!!1!. As is the case of all of one state and part of another.

IMO those scenarios and only those scenarios trigger the approvals you suggest.

OTOH, if part of existing Oregon wants to separate from current Oregon and attach itself to current Idaho without forming any new state, then IMO Clause 1 is completely inapplicable.

The Oregon & Idaho state constitutions may have something relevant to say, but the Feds are silent.


I see that falls quite easily in to the “nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States” part. It doesn’t say “nor any new State be formed”: a Greater Idaho would be a State being formed by the Junction of Idaho and part of Oregon.

My understanding, and this may be where the failure is, is that “Greater Idaho” is simply the same old Idaho we already have but bigger. It isn’t a 51st state.

If as you suggest “Greater Idaho” is in addition to the existing Idaho and is a 51st state, then yes absolutely Clause 1 applies and my prior post was inapplicable & therefore confused.

Who’s right? Fox sure isn’t the place to find the answer.


This is GQ, not GD. Why residents of states would want to change the borders, or the wisdom of doing so, are not factual questions, and so are out of bounds for this forum.

It is still forming a state by the junction of a state and part of another state. As noted the second part of Clause one says any state be formed, not any new state, so it doesn’t matter if Greater Idaho wants to be considered a new state or not.

By a plain reading of the clause, a Greater Idaho would have to get the approval of Oregon as well as it’s own legislature (of course).

Moderator Note

Let’s keep this kind of invective to the Pit and out of General Questions. No warning issued, but dial it back. [I see that I’ve been ninja’d by Chronos, but I’ll let this stand.]

General Questions Moderator

That suggests that you are reading “form” as equating “create anew”. Not necessarily.

There would remain constituted the State of Idaho, but we’d be altering what forms the State of Idaho. What forms Idaho as admitted by Act of Congress of 1890 is a specific demarcation of the remnant Idaho Territory per the boundaries set by prior Acts of Congress between 1863 and 1868.

So now in this scenario what forms the state of Idaho becomes not just the lands that were the Idaho Territory 1868-1890 but aso lands that were used to form the state of Oregon as admitted by its own Act of Congress in 1859 (which excluded lands in the Oregon Territory that went on to later be part of Idaho).

So Congress would have to pass an Act recognizing these changes so no smart aleck is taken to a court claiming that “in Federal Government eyes, I’m still in Oregon” (or even “this not being recognized by the US, I hereby declare this trailer court the sovereign shire of Selfonia”) and forces the courts to waste time and money defining what is reality. Plus it would be necessary to reapportion the Congresssional seats according to the new population, and they are not hard-locked: you may have a situation where at the end of the day even though Idaho has two districts and the seceeding Oregon lands were parts of two others, the reconfigured whole is actually only entitled to three.

Makes sense that Congress would need to change a bunch of federal stuff in response to two states choosing to swap a couple counties. And if the Feds would be forced to act, it makes sense they’d want to retain a right of veto over the transaction in the first place. The other 48 states are not necessarily massively affected by any proposed swap, but they aren’t totally unaffected either. So they get their oar in the water too.

Makes sense. Objection withdrawn.

NC/SC redid the border recently in a small area near Charlotte due to map errors. A few people moved from one state to the other.

The US-Canada border between Quebec and NY/VT is supposed to be the 45th parallel. Due to faulty surveying a couple of hundred years ago, it fluctuates slightly. A US fort was actually built on the Canadian side of the border in 1816-17 due to this factor.

It is not such a small error. The distance between the border and the 45 deg plaque is something like a 1/2 mile.

A few decades ago, a small settlement in far eastern Quebec was moved to Maine as a result of a border resurvey. There is no way of getting to it by rad except from Quebec, it gets its power from Hydro-Quebec, and its entire economy is tied to Quebec. It’s main economic activity is selling cheap gasoline and cigarettes that are delivered by bonded trucks that come in through Quebec.