Secession Silliness

Secession Petitions Filed at White House Website

©2012 Kirby Sanders

The initial story on this issue published on examiner.com website November 10, 2012.
http://www.examiner.com/article/15-states-including-texas-have-filed-a-petition-to-secede-from-the-united-states-1

You can read all of the original petitions at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions
Yes – it is real. I’ve been reviewing several of these petitions. Some observations….

1) In several instances, the creator of the petition does not show town or state of residence.

2) Same signatory names are popping up across several of the petitions.

3) Looks like some organized shenanigans – my guess would be Tea Party Patriot organizations or some other area of the “Patriot / Militia” spectrum.

4) Overall, the petitions appear to be “tots throwing tantrums”. Probably not to be taken too seriously.

5) It would probably take individual constitutional amendments for each state to be granted secession – if it can be allowed at all under the Constitution. See this interesting 2004 article on the matter from findlaw. com :
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20041124.html

These are all citizen petitions. None carry any authority from state legislatures that I have discovered.  Most of them read exactly the same (one of two models). Any citizen of any state may sign any (or all) of the petitions, even though the individual petitions are state-specific.  It appears many of the same people are signing them all – indicating some organized phenomenon.

NO STATE has petitioned. NO state legislature has approved any secession movement. These are all individuals and there are Extremist / Separatist groups in all of the states – even if one does not include the “Tea Party” in that category. An overview of Extremist / Separatist groups nationwide is available from the Southern Poverty Law Center at
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/nativist-extremist-groups-2011

The petitions are banking on a theory called “mutual separation” which DOES NOT appear in the Constitution of the United States. There is NO such provision in the Constitution. There is no provision in the Constitution whatever for separation / secession. All of the legal precedent re: secession is Civil War era – and we know how that turned out.

The only way any “mutual separation” could conceivably be accomplished would be by passage of individual Constitutional Amendments for each state allowing and defining such separation to include a vehicle for accomplishing separation OR individual Constitutional Amendments agreeing to the essential dissolution of each individual state. The only state that ever had a “right of secession” was in the annexation treaty with the Reublic of Texas. Which initial treaty clause was legally abrogated, null and void when Texas was readmitted to the US after the Civil War (March 30, 1870).

You can read up a little on the Texas situation (Texas v White) here. I don’t necessarily like using Wikipedia articles as source, but this one is pretty solid.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_v._White

As usual, the Tea Baggers are counting on revisionist interpretation – not established Constitutional precedents.

Parsing the Petitions as of 8:40am CST – Nov 12, 2012

• 22 Petitions have been filed, representing 19 states (duplicates have been filed from GA, MO and SC)
• List of states: AL, AR, CO, FL, GA, IN, KY, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NJ, NY, OR, SC, TN, TX
• First petition originated from TX
• 12 petitions are from historically “Southern States” (AR, SC, GA, TN, MS, KY, FL, NC, AL, TX)
• 4 petitions are from former “territorial” states (CO, OR, ND, MT)
• 6 of the petitions do not show town or state residence of Creator (AR, GA, MI, KY, FL and one of two MO)
• The same individual is listed as creator of petitions for NY and ND. (Creator residence listed as ND)
• Only 6 of the petitions indicate residence of creator as “urban” area (ND, CO, AL, TX, one of two from MO, one of two from SC). Remaining 16 petitions all originated from rural areas.

Update as of 10:00 a.m., Nov. 13, 2012

• 20 Additional petitions have been filed representing an additional 16 States (duplicates for OH, OK, PA and NY). This makes a new total of 34 states.

• Added states are AK, AZ, CA, DE, KS, LA, NE, NV, OK, OH, PA, SD, UT, WV, WY

• The petition for NE is the third state filed by “CR – Grand Forks ND” (He also filed ND and the initial NY petition).

Update as of 11:00 a.m., Nov. 15, 2012

Petitions have now been filed from all 50 states. Once again, none of these petitions have any official sanction by state legislatures; all are filed by individuals. Items of note regarding the new petitions:

• No hometown or state of residence is listed for the creators of petitions from NC,IA, ME, MN or IL.

• Creator of the petition for VT was filed by a resident of New York.

• Petition for HI was created by a resident of Florida.

• Petition for NM was created by a resident of Texas.

• Two petitions have been created calling for signators of the secession petitions to be stripped of their U.S. citizenship and deported / exiled.

• A petition has been filed calling for a requirement any state that wishes to secede / “mutually separate” pay the federal government a percentage of the national debt prior to the consideration of separation.

• Three petitions have been filed asking that cities be allowed to secede from their states and retain status within the United States: said cities being El Paso TX, Austin TX and Atlanta GA.

Once again (again), given that there is no Constitutional provision for secession / separation, it is unlikely that these secession petitions will amount to anything more important than a tantrum by a two-year-old. As one British friend observed, children “throwing their teddies out of the pram”.

Even if a petition or petitions achieve the required 25,000 signatures each for review by White House staff, secession is still considered to be unconstitutional by Supreme Court precedent. Neither White House staff nor Congress can authorize unconstitutional actions as requested in said petitions.

But it has been fun to watch.

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One thought on “Secession Silliness

  1. Joanna Wilhelm

    Wow, Kirby, you’ve really been analyzing these crazy things! Seems like they don’t have too much organization going on. If we’re talking treason here, they’d better watch their backs. Big Brother doesn’t look too kindly on that sort of thing….I’m just glad some idiot from my state hasn’t included VA in the list!

    Reply

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