Seventy-seven thousand seven hundred and thirty-two people have signed the petition created by a citizen of Texas to secede from the union.
The petition, posted on the White House website, lays out the signatories' reasons for seeking to separate from the United States and form its own independent government:
The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. 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, and to do so would protect it's 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.
At the time of writing this article, individuals from 33 states have filed similar petitions calling for secession.
The “We, the People” program includes a “create a petition” tab on the White House website. The explanation of the site claims that "if a petition gets enough support," — more than 25,000 signatures within 30 days — the "White House staff will review it, ensure it's sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response." The Houston Chronicle reported that “shortly after 2:30 p.m. Central time on Monday, the [Texas] petition passed that threshold.”
Since that report, Louisiana’s petition has also crossed the 25,000 signature threshold.
Regardless, President Obama has made no statement regarding the crescendo of calls to bust up the union.
Although Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2009 said “one of the deals” made at the time Texas entered the union was that the Lone Star State could leave at any time, a spokeswoman for the former GOP presidential candidate repudiates that position and declares the governor’s preference for union.
In a statement released to the Dallas Morning News, spokeswoman Catherine Frazier wrote:
Gov. Perry believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it. But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government. Now more than ever our country needs strong leadership from states like Texas, that are making tough decisions to live within their means, keep taxes low and provide opportunities to job creators so their citizens can provide for their families and prosper. We cannot allow Washington’s tax and spend, one-size-fits-all mindset to jeopardize our children’s future, undermine our personal liberties and drive our nation down a dangerous path to greater dependence of government.
States whose citizens are expressing their frustration with the union and an increasingly overreaching and tyrannical federal government include (with signature count):
Louisiana, 28,880; Texas, 77,732; Florida, 22,181; Alabama, 20,549; North Carolina, 19,452; Kentucky, 12,719; Mississippi, 12,731; Indiana, 13,394; North Dakota, 8,812; Montana, 9,838; Colorado, 14,681; Oregon, 10,429; New Jersey, 9,988; New York, 11,326; South Carolina, 15,653; Arkansas, 14,948; Georgia, 21,206; Missouri 12,659; Tennessee, 19,875; Michigan, 13,370; Oklahoma, 11,580; Nevada, 6,371; Arizona, 12,451; Pennsylvania, 8,061; Delaware, 4,876; South Dakota, 2,014; Nebraska, 2,434; Kansas, 3,340; Alaska, 3,424; California, 6,181; Utah, 4,465; West Virginia, 2,257; Wyoming, 4,543.
Those numbers increase by the minute, so check whitehouse.gov for updates.
In nearly every petition, reference is made to the Declaration of Independence. For example, the Alabama petition reads:
As the founding fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government…”
While the announcement of intent to dissolve political bands has historic precedence, a request for permission is unique and constitutionally unnecessary.
In a statement made in wake of Governor Perry’s apparent support for secession in 2009, Congressman Ron Paul said that those who consider secession treasonous, “don’t know their history.”
“It’s a very American tradition; it’s very American to talk about secession,” Paul said.
Reminding viewers of the support given by the government of the United States to the secession of former Soviet republics from the Soviet Union, Paul said that America came into being by seceding from Great Britain.
“Secession is a good principle,” the former presidential candidate said.
Apart from outright secession — which is the right of states — there is, of course, an intermediate “rightful remedy” to the federal government’s constant encroachment into the sovereign territory of states: nullification.
This generation is subjected as none before them to the painful injection of government into every fiber of the body politic. On what seems like a daily schedule, the Congress passes and the president signs into law measures ostensibly permitting the manhandling of people at airports, the suspension of the requirements of due process, and the monitoring by the never-blinking eye of a surveillance state into the virtual and actual behavior of anyone believed to one day possibly pose a threat to the security of “the homeland.”
As they sift among the various legal methods available to them for the civil combat against economic enslavement and the federal government’s intrusions into every aspect of our lives, they have stumbled across this timeless principle of self-defense used by our Founding Fathers to fight their own battle against the forces of federal oppression.
Simply stated, nullification is a concept of legal statutory construction that endows each state with the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal measure that a state deems unconstitutional. Nullification is founded on the assertion that the sovereign states formed the union, and as creators of the compact, they hold ultimate authority as to the limits of the power of the central government to enact laws that are applicable to the states and the citizens thereof.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, No. 33:
If a number of political societies enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers intrusted [sic] to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies and the individuals of whom they are composed.... But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the larger society which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. [Emphasis in original.]
The principle of nullification is set forth most cogently in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798. These calls for the rejection by states of the Alien and Sedition Acts were written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, respectfully.
Nowhere therein do Madison and Jefferson express a desire to weaken the union or violate the Constitution. To the contrary, their express purpose is to “prevent unjust and unconstitutional assumptions of Congressional power.”
As a matter of fact, Jefferson argued that if states were to secede and form a new, separate confederation, “the same difficulties might occur in the smaller union; and finally each unit fall apart into its colonial condition.”
Lest we forget, the Kentucky Resolutions were drafted by the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Resolution was written by the Father of the Constitution. These were no disloyal or seditious separatists. Their intent, their express and elegantly phrased intent, was to prevent the union they helped form from devolving into an oligarchy whose reign would be more oppressive and tyrannical than George III ever devised in his most power-addled fantasy.
Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a former constitutional attorney and professor of American government. He travels the country speaking on issues of states rights, nullification, and the surveillance state.