The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

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    America’s Temper Tantrum

    In the course of the past few weeks, since the reelection of President Barack Obama, a cry of protest has manifested itself in the thousands of signatures received by several states’ petitions to secede from the United States.

    The petitions propose a separation of the individual state from the country, often citing lines from the Declaration about acting against oppressive governments.  Petitions have come in from all 50 states, as stated by newspapers from various parts of the country.  However, secession in this day and age is not legally possible—but not legally impossible either.

    Erik Garn, senior, states that “It is constitutionally possible for Texas to secede…because they were joined a different way than any other state into the Union.”  And he is correct, in a manner of speaking.  According to texassecede.com, the Texas Constitution does not expressly allow for secession but neither does it prohibit it:

    “[The ability of Texas to secede] finds no corroboration where it counts: No such provision is found in the current Texas Constitution (adopted in 1876) or the terms of annexation.  However, it does state (in Article 1, Section 1) that “Texas is a free and independent State, subject only to the Constitution of the United States…” (note that it does not state “…subject to the President of the United States…” or “…subject to the Congress of the United States…” or “…subject to the collective will of one or more of the other States…”)”

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    It is stated in the Declaration of Independence, and cited by several secession petitions, that “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.”  However, this does not make separation from the Union a legal act.

    “The Constitution does not provide for secession.  The notion to change government “when it becomes destructive” is found in the Declaration of Independence but there is no mechanism in the Constitution for opting out,” said Leeann Hyer, Davis High’s AP Government teacher, in an email interview.

    The Constitution may not provide for secession, but nowhere is it stated that secession is illegal.  Historically, secession has been opposed by the government and initiated forcefully—see the Civil War.  However, it is doubtful that most if not all of the states are willing to go as far as civil war in this case.

    “They feel the US is moving away from democratic ideals and yet ironically want to throw away the democratically elected system.  Their frustration at losing the election is valid, their attempt to secede is not,” Hyer said.

    “It shows that people are upset with the current President and whether you agree with it or not, it shows that there are lots of people who disagree with the state of the Union right now,” Garn said.

    In the past, states have attempted to secede for various reasons.  However, this is the first time all 50 states have done so for the same or similar reasons, and it has attracted the attention of the media across the country.

    Hyer provided another explanation.  “It is only noteworthy because it is widespread and comes on the heels of a black president being re-elected. Most news sources are treating it as a novelty, not as a serious attempt to change our form of government.”

    In response to the petitions, numerous anti-secession petitions have cropped up.  Many of these petitions call for the deportation of those who have signed the original secession petitions, or actions of equal weight.

    Petitions to secede require 25,000 signatures in order to receive consideration by the federal government.  However, consideration by the federal government means that any move for secession can be easily revoked.  For this reason, the petitions are more of an expression of malcontent rather than a serious bid for autonomy.  In any case, the likelihood of any one state becoming a successful, independent country on its own is low.

    “No state could really pull it off besides Texas, because Texas has its economy…with oil and stuff it’s the only state that could really be self-sufficient….  California could be too, but they’re kind of bankrupt, so they depend on the United States Federal Government,” Garn said.  The United States are just that—united, linked through innumerable, minute connections.  It is likely that a state on its own would fail, unable to support themselves without the aid of the country.

    This situation is an example of how Constitutional interpretation occurs in the United States—despite the lack of explicit direction regarding secession in the Constitution, without moving toward civil war, the states cannot achieve separation due to the evaluation of petitions by the federal government.

    For the sake of the Union in the future, it is important that Davis High students study the workings of the federal government and learn as much as they can about the fundamentals of the country.  With education comes a better capacity to understand and respond to future changes in the nation.

    Reporter: Megan Johnson

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