It turns out Americans wanting their states to secede weren’t just whistling Dixie.
The White House has received petitions from all 50 states – signed by nearly 750,000 citizens asking permission to secede from the United States. A White House spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
The petitions were filed on the White House website’s “We the People” petition system. The Obama administration promises to respond to petitions that receive at least 25,000 signatures within 30 days. At least seven states – including Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee have met that threshold.
“This cake has been baking for a long time,” Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, told Politico. “It’s the Obama administration that put the candles on the cake and lit it for us.”
Nearly 100,000 citizens have signed the Texas petition. But the Lone Star State is not going anywhere, according to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
“Gov. Perry believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it,” Perry spokesperson Catherine Frazier said in a statement to Fox News. “But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government.”
Miller called the governor’s statement “ambiguous.”
“The federal government is broken beyond all belief,” he told Politico. “There’s a political, cultural and economic gap, and the longer that we refuse to recognize that gap – the more states will put out to secede the Union.”
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley also rejected secessionist calls – noting in a statement to AL.com that while he understood frustrations with the federal government, he believed in “one nation under God.”
So can states legally secede from the United States?
Absolutely not, said Nicole Velasco, an assistant professor of political science at Lee University.
“Secession is both highly improbably and not particularly legal,” she told Fox News – citing an 1869 Supreme Court case – “Texas vs. White.”
“The Supreme Court very definitively said that when Texas joined the Union, they joined the Union on the basis of an indestructible union composed of indestructible states,” she said.
In that case, Chief Justice Salmon Chase wrote:
“When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.”
Velasco said the secession movement has even reached classrooms at Lee University.
“It’s been mentioned, but it’s been mentioned as something people are not taking very seriously,” she said.
But, the professor added, it certainly makes for good political theater.
The first petition was launched by a man identified as “Michael E”, a resident of Slidell, La.
“We petition the Obama administration to peacefully grant the state of Louisiana to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government,” he wrote, going on to quote from the Declaration of Independence.
The petitions have generated lots of debate on talk radio stations around the nation.
“It was a huge discussion,” said Bernadette Lee, the co-host of the morning show on KPEL in Lafayette, La. “It’s just been amazing that people are so interested in this.”
Lee told Fox News their listeners are divided over secession – but said many people are just “frustrated with the way things are working in this country.”
“I think they’re fed up with Congress, the Senate the President –with the whole system,” Lee said. “People really are just so fed up that something radical needs to be done.”
On the plus side, though, secession could result in a financial windfall for the Pelican State. Lee said her co-host received an email from a listener pointing out that Louisiana could probably get more federal money by being a foreign country – than being a state.
The calls for secession have also drawn some backlash. At least two petitions have been launched calling for citizens who signed the original petitions to be deported.
The San Francisco Chronicle published an editorial titled, “If They Want To Secede, Let ‘Em.”
The writer called signers of the petitions not-so-bright, foolish and knuckleheads.
“It’s barely been a week since President Obama’s re-election, and some people can’t believe, truly can’t believe, that things didn’t go their way,” wrote Caille Millner – suggesting Obama should “let these ungrateful states go.”
“My prediction? Absolute chaos in the Southern states as they realize we’re possessed of 85 percent of the country’s venture capital and entrepreneurs and two-thirds of the country’s tax revenue,” she wrote. “After several years of this experiment, my guess is that the Southern states will be begging to be let back into the Union.”
National unity aside, some Americans had other concerns about secession.
West Virginia resident Mick Stoehr told television station KSAT he was worried about the future of the Lone Star State.
“I don’t want to see Texas go,” he said. “I’m from West Virginia. We just joined the Big 12.”