Secession, States' Rights and Constitution

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Secession, States' Rights and Constitution: Our States Remain United

Obama Administration responds to secession: "Our States Remain United."

Obama on Secession
President Barack Obama.jpg
President Barack Obama

(Left) Official portrait of President Obama


In 2012, individuals from 8 U.S. States filed petitions on requesting that Washington allow their respective State the right to "Peacefully withdrawal from the United States of America and create its own government." The official position of the White House is to respond to any and all petitions that have at least 25,000 signatures. The White House officially responded in 2013 to the petitions from the following States: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. In its official response, there are stark comparisons to 150 years ago when Abraham Lincoln addressed the Southern states on Secession. See also: President Lincoln on Secession and States' Rights and President Abraham Lincoln in his own words from Civil Rights to Secession.

Official White House Response

Petition Response: Our States Remain United

By Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Washington

In a nation of 300 million people -- each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs -- democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing. Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted.

But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don't let that debate tear us apart.

Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States "in order to form a more perfect union" through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot -- a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it. As President Abraham Lincoln explained in his first inaugural address in 1861, "in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual." In the years that followed, more than 600,000 Americans died in a long and bloody civil war that vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States. And shortly after the Civil War ended, the Supreme Court confirmed that "[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States."

Although the founders established a perpetual union, they also provided for a government that is, as President Lincoln would later describe it, "of the people, by the people, and for the people" -- all of the people. Participation in, and engagement with, government is the cornerstone of our democracy. And because every American who wants to participate deserves a government that is accessible and responsive, the Obama Administration has created a host of new tools and channels to connect concerned citizens with White House. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of the We the People platform is a chance to engage directly with our most outspoken critics.

So let's be clear: No one disputes that our country faces big challenges, and the recent election followed a vigorous debate about how they should be addressed. As President Obama said the night he won re-election, "We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future."


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