Secession fever is spreading. In red and blue pockets of America, disgruntled residents are organizing efforts to split up with their home states, from liberals in southern Arizona to conservatives in rural Colorado and Western Maryland.

The biggest obstacle for these movements would seem to be the Constitution, which requires secessionists to get the blessing of their state Legislature and then Congress.

There might be an easier way, says Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at Northwestern University, in a provocative post at Volokh Conspiracy. Rather than forming a new “51st” state, how about seceding to join an existing state?

“The Constitution’s requirement of home-state and congressional consent only clearly applies to the creation of a ‘new state,’ ” Mr. Kontorovich writes.

Here’s what Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution says:

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, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned, as well as of the Congress.

Mr. Kontorovich concedes that it’s not totally clear what it means to “form” a new state. But he thinks one can make a more compelling case that merely shrinking or enlarging boundaries isn’t the same thing as creating a new state.

Read More:  http://blogs.wsj.com/law/