November 26, 2012

Divided states of America: Secession in the air

Since Obama's re-election, close to 1 million people have signed up online to go their separate ways, with Texas and Georgia leading the charge.

By JAMES ROSEN McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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The Texas state flag. Since Obama's re-election, close to 1 million people have signed a petition supporting secession, with Texas and Georgia leading the charge.

AP File Photo

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.”

The secession movement has prompted a counter-secession drive on the White House website.

Several petitions demand that any seceding state pay its share of the national debt or make another form of restitution before leaving the union.

More than 8,500 Austinites and supporters have petitioned for the Texas capital to withdraw from the state before it secedes, while more than 1,600 Atlantans and allies are making the same request should Georgia go.

The White House website does have a few kinks. There’s no way of verifying the residence or even the identity of any petition signers, and indeed among those who have signed onto the Texas secession drive, there appear to be as many who say they live outside the Lone Star State as in it.

Joe Dugan, head of the South Carolina Tea Party, sympathizes with the would-be secessionists and knows a number who are among the 39,572 petitioners for the Palmetto State to leave the union.

Dugan, though, refuses to sign any of the “We the People” petitions on the White House website — and warns that those who do so are taking a big risk.

“I am not going to put my name on any Obama website,” Dugan said. “I don’t trust the Obama administration people as far as I can throw them. I think there’s a good chance that at some point they will reference that database and there will be retaliation” against the secession petitioners.

The White House declined to comment on Dugan’s concerns.

Dozens of secession movements have existed before Obama’s re-election fueled the new wave.

Christian Exodus, bemoaning “the moral generation of American culture,” has called on all “Christian constitutionalists” since 2003 to move to South Carolina and create “an independent Christian nation that will survive after the decline and fall of the financially and morally bankrupt American empire.”

Independent Long Island is a 5-year-old initiative that wants the slice of New York jutting into the Atlantic to become “a viable and independent new country,” though its promoters avow that mere statehood will be “seriously considered” if full nationhood can’t be achieved.


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