11 would-be seceding states over threshold
WASHINGTON — In the three weeks since President Obama's re-election victory, his most ardent foes — nearly 1 million people from all 50 states — have signed online petitions to take their opposition to the extreme: seceding from the United States.
They're doing it on the White House's “We the People” website, taking advantage of a pledge to review any petition that gains at least 25,000 signatures.
Texas was far ahead of the pack, with 117,373 digital signatures on its petition by midday on Monday.
“Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union,” the petition states.
“To do so would protect its citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers, which are no longer being reflected by the federal government,” it says.
Randy Dye, a North Carolina Tea Party member and retired trauma nurse from Pittsboro, started his state's petition, which had drawn more than 30,000 signatures, good for sixth-most among all states.
While helping victims of Superstorm Sandy in Queens, Dye explained why he would like North Carolina to leave the union.
“States need to turn into countries where we keep our own money,” Dye said.
“It would be a lot easier to control government at the state level than at the federal level,” Dye said. “I believe that President Obama is probably a good man and a good daddy to his kids, but he's a socialist. I think we're headed we're heading toward a socialist nation, and I want nothing to do with that.”
Eleven would-be seceding states — Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida and Ohio — had reached the 25,000-signature threshold that the “We the People” website promises will gain an official Obama administration review.
Nine of the 11 states voted against Obama in the Nov. 6 election, with only Florida and Ohio as pro-Obama outliers.
“Every petition that crosses the threshold is reviewed and receives a response,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said. “As a rule, we don't comment on the substance of those responses until they're issued to the petitioners.”
The would-be secessionists have looked for support to Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and longtime libertarian leader, who has long said states have the right to leave the union.
“It's very American to talk about secession,” Paul said in an April 2009 YouTube video. “That's how we came into being — 13 colonies seceded from the British and established a new country. So secession is very much of an American principle.”
Some constitutional law scholars say that while it wouldn't be impossible for a state to secede, to do so legally would entail highly implausible steps such as gaining ratification of a constitutional amendment or passage of a law redrawing the nation's boundaries.
“It all boils down to whether the larger country is willing to accept a peaceful withdrawal,” said Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas-Austin.
“I think it is a fantasy, but given the history of the United States, secession is not necessarily a laughing matter,” Levinson said. “The Constitution doesn't specify an answer one way or another. My view is that it's a close call.”
Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale University law professor, disagrees.
While the Constitution doesn't directly address secession, Amar said, the founding document makes it clear in a half-dozen clauses that such a move is banned and would be tantamount to treason.
Amar said the most important provision, known as the Supremacy Clause in Article 6, makes clear the authority of the Constitution, along with federal laws and treaties, over “anything in the constitution or laws of any state.”
“What the Constitution says repeatedly is once you're in (as a state), you're in,” Amar said. “If people want to secede, they are allowed to leave, they just can't take the land and the water with them. There is a lawful way to secede - it's called emigration. They can move to Canada.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Road trip increases in difficulty
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Federal jury says gas company shorted owners on royalties
- Mt. Lebanon deer-culling corrals sprayed with urine, repellent
- Loose barges on the Mon highlight woes of winter’s end
- Police looking for man they say assaulted a 13-year-old girl
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- Parkway East closure lifted after truck with loose load of coils forces detour
- Audit: Pitt oversight of youth camp staff backgrounds spotty
- EF’s Fournier emerges from prelims at PIAA Class AA tournament