By Joseph Marks
November 13, 2012
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This story was last updated at 6 p.m.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, citizens of 39 states had asked the federal government for permission to secede from the union using the White House’s We the People online petition site.
Three of those petitions, from Louisiana, Texas and Florida had crossed the 25,000 signature threshold to receive an official response from the Obama Administration.
A White House official told Nextgov on Monday that the administration would respond to every petition that crossed the threshold but would not “comment on what the substance of that response will be before it’s issued.”
The flood of secession petitions, which began the day after President Obama’s reelection, had also prompted a backlash with petitions asking the government to “Deport Everyone That Signed A Petition To Withdraw Their State From The United States Of America” and to “Strip the Citizenship from Everyone who Signed a Petition to Secede and Exile Them.”
The petitions had also prompted a response from one elected official. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who arguably flirted with secession himself, told the Dallas Morning News late Monday that he “believes in the greatness of our union and nothing should be done to change it,” when asked about the Texas petition.
Citizens of historically liberal Austin, Texas also filed a petition Tuesday afternoon asking the federal government to allow them to remain part of the United States if the rest of Texas seceded. Austin “continues to suffer difficulties stemming from the lack of civil, religious, and political freedoms imposed upon the city by less liberally minded Texans,” that petition said.
The secession petitions seem to have also sparked a renewed interest in the We the People platform itself, which has been hovering at around 30 active petitions the past six months. Since the election, 68 new petitions have been posted to the site, 23 of which had nothing to do with the secession debate.
Two of those petitions had also crossed the threshold for an administration response as of Tuesday afternoon. One of those petitions asked for a recount of the 2012 presidential race. The other sought to legalize marijuana, which has proved the most popular petition topic on We the People.
Petitions are removed from We the People if they fail to reach the response threshold within one month.
Dozens of petitions were posted to We the People after its September 2011 launch, but the rush of new petitions slowed soon after the first crop of responses, which petitioners complained seemed rote and unserious.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, secession petitions had been filed by citizens of Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan, New York, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Nevada, Delaware, Ohio, California, Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Virginia, Rhode Island, Idaho, New Hampshire and Illinois.
Puerto Rico residents also filed a petition Nov. 8 asking the White House to act on a non-binding referendum in which the island territory’s residents favored U.S. statehood.
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By Joseph Marks
November 13, 2012