The Obama administration on Friday responded to the wave of secession petitions that spread online following the November election, preaching unity over division and saying there’s no right to secede.
“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,” wrote Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement.
“But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don’t let that debate tear us apart,” he said.
More than two dozen states from all corners of the country filed online White House petitions after President Barack Obama’s victory over Gov. Mitt Romney, calling for the government to allow them to secede. Carson’s letter was filed in response to requests from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, all of which garnered the necessary 25,000 signatures. It was also a response to a petition to deport those who had signed petitions to secede in the first place.
Carson said the Founding Fathers enshrined in the Constitution the right to change the national government at the ballot box, but not the right to secede.
“[T]hey did not provide a right to walk away from it,” he continued. “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.”
After the Civil War ended, Carson said, the Supreme Court held that “[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.”
“So let’s be clear,” he concluded. “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.’ Whether it’s figuring out how to strengthen our economy, reduce our deficit in a responsible way, or protect our country, we will need to work together — and hear from one another — in order to find the best way to move forward.”