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Secession talks uncover myths, misconceptions of Texas law

Staff Reporter

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 00:11

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Eric Fite | The Houstonian

Texas is among all 50 states that have residents who have filed petitions to secede from the United States.

Micah H., of Arlington, created a petition on Nov. 9 asking that President Barack Obama to “peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government.” Five days later the petition has received over 103,000 signatures, which is well over the 25,000 required to garner a response from the White House.


The fact that Texas, or any other state, has the explicit ability to secede is a myth.


Many students across the state are taught to believe that due to Texas’ unique history and previous independence, the state is allowed to leave the Union whenever it pleases.


“That’s a false assumption,” political science professor Michael Smith said. “Texas can break up into five states if it chooses, but as far as secession, no.”


Texas is among more than 40 states whose citizens are calling for secession.


Most of the petitions have a relatively small number of signatures. However, because of larger petitions forcing a response from Obama, his response will be largely regarded as precedent for the rules of secession if a case does not reach the Supreme Court.


There is currently no law that explicitly allows or disallows for the secession of any state. Most experts agree that in the case of an act of secession, it would be up to the sitting president to make the call on what action would be taken.


The petition is in response to Obama’s re-election for four more years, and cites the existence of the Nation Defense Authorization Act and the Transportation Security Administration as grounds for secession.


The petition reads, “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…”


Jacob Luna, senior agriculture business major, said expressing the right to petition in the first amendment to the Constitution is good, but seceding isn’t what is in Texas’ best interest.


“It’s cool with a petition to express your grievances with leadership,” Luna said. “As far as seceding, I don’t think people understand all that comes with it.”


He said that while Texas has the resources of a nation, they’re all in the hand of the federal government.


“We have oil and ports, and those things are through the United States of America,” Luna said. “Nobody has a trade agreement with the Republic of Texas. Also, we’re going to have to think about food. Sure, we have a bunch of fruits and vegetables and cash crops such as cotton, but that’s not enough to get from inside the state.”


Danielle Turner, senior musical theatre major, said Texas wouldn’t make it on its own.


“I think that Texas succeeding from the union is unconstitutional and I honestly don’t think we could stand as a country alone,” Turner said. “I love Texas and am happy to have lived here, but I believe there is a reason we’re a part of the United States of America and that is how we should stay, united.”
Some ignore the post-Civil War re-administration of Texas to the Union as a state, and say that the state is still a republic, as argued in Texas v. White in 1869. In this case, those individuals believe secession isn’t necessary and that Texas has never been a part of the union.


Rick Perry made headlines in the Republican primary when he made comments that suggest Texas secede. After the petition gained support, Perry rejected the idea.


“We’ve got a great union,” Perry said. “There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it.”


In a light-hearted, yet slightly serious, petition, residents of Austin filed a petition to remain with Texas in the event the state succeeds in secession.


The White House hasn’t said when the Obama Administration is going to respond to the petition, but will likely respond through the Department of the Interior. For more information on the petitions, visit petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions.

 
 

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