Following the November 6 elections, thousands of residents have signed petitions requesting that their state leave the union following the re-election of Barack Obama.
Texas stands out by the sheer number of supporters who favor an independent country.
But is there a procedure for a state to legally declare its independence and separate from the U.S.?
The White House Website: We the People
Americans have always been able to petition their government. One of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment is the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Unfortunately, drafting a petition and going from door to door seeking signers was time-consuming. But not anymore.
To use a worn out cliché, with today’s technology, people can draft or sign a petition while wearing pajamas and sitting in their parents’ basement. The result is that we find numerous secession petitions on the We the People section of the official website of the White House.
According to its terms, the Obama administration agrees that if a petition garners 25,000 signatures within a period of 30 days, that petition will be sent to appropriate White House staff for an examination. The staff will then send the issue to policy experts who will prepare a response. The administration promises that all petitions that reach the required threshold will be responded to.
But petitions on We the People do not have the force of law, and the promise to follow the procedure set out is just that—a promise. No doubt petitions that receive more than 25,000 signatures within 30 days will receive a response, but the response could consist of “don’t be silly” or “no way.”
Of all the petitions on We the People calling for state secession, Texas has the most votes. At the time of writing, more than 106,000 Americans have signed this particular petition since it was first posted on November 9.
The United States Constitution on Secession
The constitution is completely silent on the issue of a state leaving the union. As many legal documents do, the omission leaves both sides of the argument to say the constitution supports their point of view. Those who favor the secession of a state say that states can decide to separate because the U.S. Constitution does not expressly forbid it. Those opposed to breaking up the country argue that since the constitution does not expressly provide for a state to leave the union, a state has no legal right to secede from the United States.
Despite how horrific Obama’s re-election is to those people who are demanding their state secede from the U.S., this is not the first time states have tried to secede. Texas attempted to leave the union just prior to the Civil War. And as keen observers will note, Texas is still one of the United States of America.