Texas Nationalists say secession is possible as 77,000 sign petition, despite governor Rick Perry backing the union.
Less than a week after Barack Obama was re-elected president, a slew of petitions have appeared on the White House's We the People site, asking for states to be granted the right to peacefully withdraw from the union.
On Tuesday, all but one of the 33 states listed were far from reaching the 25,000 signature mark needed to get a response from the White House. Texas, however, had gained more than 77,000 online signatures in three days.
People from other states had signed the Texas petition. Another petition on the website was titled: "Deport everyone that signed a petition to withdraw their state from the United States of America." It had 3,536 signatures.
The Texas petition reads:
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, and to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.
Activists across the country have advocated for independent statehood since the union was restored after the end of the Civil War in 1865. Texas has been host to some of the most fervent fights for independence.
Daniel Miller is the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, which supports Texan independence and has its own online petition.
"We want to be able to govern ourselves without having some government a thousand-plus miles away that we have to go ask 'mother may I' to," Miller said. "We want to protect our political, our cultural and our economic identities."
Miller is not a fan of the word "secession", because he views it as an over-generalization of what his group hopes to accomplish, but he encourages advocates for Texan independence to show their support when they can, including by signing the White House website petition.
"Given the political, cultural and economic pressures the United States is under, it's not beyond the pale where one could envision the break up of the United States," he said. "I don't look at it as possibility, I look at it as an inevitability."
Miller has been working for Texas independence for 16 years. He pointed to last week's federal elections as evidence that a state independence movement is gaining traction. Miller pointed to the legalization of the sale of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, disobeying federal mandate.
Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling professor of law at Yale, said that extreme circumstances would be necessary for a state to be able to secede from the US.
"The simple answer is create a time machine and rewrite the constitution or win the Civil War," Amar said.
He went on to explain that secession could be achieved legally, with a constitutional amendment, federal statute or treaty – all of which would need majority support from the rest of the country.
"The big point is it can't occur unilaterally, it would have to be a decision of the whole United States, rather than a part," Amar said.
Amar believes that people who favor independence would be better off leaving the country on their own.
"If they really want to do it, individuals are allowed to self-deport, and I'm not talking about so-called illegal aliens, I'm talking about people who signed the petition," said Amar. "They can secede – it's called immigration – but they can't take the land or the water with them because these are the common inheritance of all Americans."
Amar quoted a line from one of Abraham Lincoln's annual messages to Congress:
These outlets, east, west, and south, are indispensable to the well being of the people inhabiting and to inhabit this vast interior region. Which of the three may be the best is no proper question. All are better than either, and all of right belong to that people and to their successors forever. True to themselves, they will not ask where a line of separation shall be, but will vow rather that there shall be no such line.
A spokeswoman for the governor of Texas, Rick Perry – who in 2009 appeared to suggest that Texas had a right to secede from the union – said the governor was opposed to such a move.
In a statement to the Dallas Morning News, Catherine Frazier, Perry's press secretary, said: "Governor Perry believes in the greatness of our union and nothing should be done to change it. But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government.
"Now more than ever our country needs strong leadership from states like Texas, that are making tough decisions to live within their means, keep taxes low and provide opportunities to job creators so their citizens can provide for their families and prosper."