Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
The White House has responded to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who signed digital petitions asking permission for states to peacefully secede from the union.
In a nutshell, the answer is no.
“As much as we value a healthy debate,” writes Jon Carson, director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, in in the official response, “we don’t let that debate tear us apart.”
The Louisiana petition quoted from the Declaration of Independence: “‘Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government.’”
According to the guidelines of the “We the People” website, when a petition reaches 25,000 signatures, the White House has pledged to put the petition on a queue for response.
Louisiana’s petition quickly reached that threshold and was followed by similar petitions from all 50 states, several of which also topped the 25,000 mark.
The official White House response is listed as a response to all of the secession petitions, pro and con.
“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,” the response reasoned. “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,’” the response continued. “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.’”
The question of secession’s constitutionality has been debated, indeed, since long before Abraham Lincoln’s time, and has remained debated even since the Texas v. White Supreme Court decision cited in the White House response.
WND columnists Walter E. Williams and Alan Keyes, for example, have both penned columns arguing secession is perfectly constitutional. Williams’ column, available here, cites historical evidence from both the Founding Fathers and the Civil War era. Alan Keyes’ column, available here, argues God-given rights cannot be trumped by man-made law, Supreme Court decisions or civil war.