EL PASO, Texas -- Bad news for thousands of people who wanted to see Texas secede: The state is still in the U.S.
The White House has responded to a petition asking that Texas be allowed to break away from the country, saying the Founding Fathers who created the nation "did not provide a right to walk away from it."
More than 125,000 people signed the petition, which was created a few days after President Barack Obama won re-election. The White House has promised to respond to any petition that gets more than 25,000 signatures within 30 days.
Jon Carson, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, issued a response quoting Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address and a Supreme Court opinion after the Civil War. It said America was created as a "perpetual union," but one that allows people with different beliefs to debate the issues.
"Democracy can be noisy and controversial," Carson said. "Free and open debate is what makes this country work. ... But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don't let that debate tear us apart."
The petition was created by Micah Hurd, a Texas National Guardsman and an engineering student at the University of Texas in Arlington. He couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
In asking that Texas be allowed to leave the country, the petition cited the "economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending." It argued that given the size of Texas' economy and because the state has a balanced budget, it would be "practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union."
The petition also said the federal government didn't share the same values held by the Founding Fathers.
But Carson argued that the writers of the U.S. Constitution addressed the need for policy change through elections, not secession.
The petition's success brought overnight fame for Hurd, though briefly got him in trouble. In December, a regiment commander at the Texas National Guard sent an email to his subordinates, including Hurd, saying "any mention of secession better happen on a civilian venue."
"It's only talk, and rather ignorant talk at that," the commander wrote. "If you've already done something to call attention to yourself or our regiment in this matter, make it go away."
But a few days later, a National Guard spokeswoman said Hurd had done nothing wrong and that "the email asking him not to talk about it" shouldn't have been sent.
A telephone listing for Hurd couldn't be found Monday by The Associated Press. His father, who has spoken on behalf of his son in the past, didn't immediately return a phone message.
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Left-leaning Arizonans attempted to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/10/baja-arizona-state_n_859954.html" target="_hplink">get a measure on the ballot</a> in 2011 that would create a new bastion for liberals in the state. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the measure would have given voters a choice to decide whether to chip off Pima County from the rest of Arizona, creating another state: Baja Arizona. It's an idea that's long been discussed, but <em>The Tucson Sentinel</em> <a href="http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/070111_baja_indepedence/baja-arizonans-declare-independence-from-phoenix/" target="_hplink">reports</a> that the most recent action was spurred by a desire for greater control over local issues and discontent with proceedings at the Phoenix statehouse. "Every bill we've heard about here is either anti-abortion laws or anti-Mexican laws. These are not laws that are geared toward solving the real problems that we have," David Euchner, treasurer of <a href="http://startourstate.com/" target="_hplink">Start Our State</a>, the group behind the secession push, <a href="http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_c2787d7e-fbcb-501f-af4b-c85d4da7ac62.html" target="_hplink">told</a> the <em>Arizona Daily Star</em>.
Maine vs. Northern Massachusetts
Republican Maine State Rep. Henry Joy brought forth <a href="http://www.asmainegoes.com/content/rep-joy-proposes-plan-divide-maine-two-states" target="_hplink">legislation</a> in 2010 to divide northern and southern Maine into two autonomous states. According to Joy, the move was necessary because of a <a href="http://www.restore.org/Maine/overview.html" target="_hplink">proposal</a> that would have turned millions of acres of northern woodland into a nature preserve, leading to the forced relocation of residents in the area. While that measure never passed, Joy was apparently not keen on the prospect of being removed from his home turf. Joy's bill, which eventually <a href="http://failuremag.com/index.php/failure_analysis/article/proposal_to_divide_maine_into_2_states_fails/" target="_hplink">failed</a>, would have allowed the northern portion of the state to retain the name Maine, while the southern section would have been ordained Northern Massachusetts. Joy proposed <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/02/27/maines_split_personality/" target="_hplink">similar legislation</a> in 2005, which also failed.
Democratic Utah State Rep. <a href="http://congress.org/congressorg/bio/id/8481" target="_hplink">Neal Hendrickson</a> submitted legislation in 2008 for the <a href="http://le.utah.gov/~2008/bills/hbillint/hjr006.htm" target="_hplink">creation of a new state within Utah</a>. Hendrickson contended that "citizens in the more populated areas of northern Utah have many interests that stand in stark contrast to the interests of southern rural areas of the state, which feel they do not have the influence on state policymaking that citizens along the Wasatch Front enjoy." His bill, which he said would "provide the citizens of what is presently southern Utah increased access to their state government," didn't pass.
The Republic Of Texas
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/04/15/37587/perry-texas-secession/" target="_hplink">signed</a> onto a non-binding resolution claiming constitutional overreach of the federal government in 2009, some may have thought it was simply a symbolic display meant to show solidarity with a right-wing base disgruntled after the passage of President Barack Obama's stimulus package. A day later, however, Perry took his rhetoric to another level, implying that Texas might <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/15/gov-rick-perry-texas-coul_n_187490.html" target="_hplink">secede</a> if "Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people," by strapping his state with unsustainable taxation, spending and debt.
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), a Republican primary candidate for governor, piggy-backed off Texas Gov. Rick Perry's secession comments last year, <a href="http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2010/07/health_care_law.php" target="_hplink">telling</a> <i>Hotline on Call</i> in a discussion about federal mandates in the health care law that states such as Tennessee might be "forced to consider separation from this government" depending on the outcome of the elections. Wamp eventually <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/governor-races/112993-rep-wamp-loses-gov-primary-to-mayor-haslam-" target="_hplink">lost</a> the gubernatorial primary to Knoxville mayor and eventual winner Bill Haslam.
In 1998, Republican Maryland State Sen. Richard Colburn <a href="http://mlis.state.md.us/1998rs/billfile/sb0564.htm" target="_hplink">filed a bill</a> that would have paved the way for the Eastern Shore of his state, as well as parts of Delaware and Virginia, to branch off into a separate entity called Delmarva. <a href="http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/012100/012158/pdf/post12feb1998.pdf" target="_hplink">Upset with regulations</a> being forged in Annapolis and passed down to the Eastern Shore, Colburn encouraged Maryland's coastal residents to work toward a referendum that could get the measure on the ballot. It never passed muster.
Lawmakers across New York have long floated secession as a potential way to rectify what they see as imbalances in the burdens of taxes and other economic factors. From <a href="http://www.nysun.com/blogs/culture-of-congestion/2008/01/secession-new-york-city-as-polis.html" target="_hplink">local proposals</a> to split New York City off into its own state, to pushes to turn <a href="http://www.ppinys.org/reports/2004/letupstate.pdf" target="_hplink">upstate New York</a> or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/22/nyregion/22secede.html" target="_hplink">Long Island</a> into their own sovereign entities, all efforts at secession have failed.
The tiny Rhode Island enclave of Block Island made a stir in the 1980s when its residents pursued secession after <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20088188,00.html" target="_hplink">being invaded</a> by a population of moped-riding mainlanders. The state senate and supreme court initially refused to allow the island's governing body to regulate the offending mopeds, which resulted in a <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20088188,00.html" target="_hplink">successful vote</a> to declare independence from the rest of Rhode Island. Massachusetts and Connecticut <a href="http://www.projo.com/specials/century/month10/02733011.htm" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> reached out during the process in the interest of annexing the island. Weeks later, the Rhode Island legislature <a href="http://www.projo.com/specials/century/month10/02733011.htm" target="_hplink">approved a bill</a> giving Block Island regulatory control over mopeds on the island, which sufficiently appeased residents.
Republican West Virginia Delegate Larry Kump <a href="http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/briefs/x746672958/Delegate-admits-W-Va-secession-bill-a-long-shot" target="_hplink">floated a proposal</a> earlier this year to let a number of his state's panhandle counties secede and rejoin Virginia. Citing <a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/01/west-virginia-legislator-hatches-plan-rejoin-virginia" target="_hplink">economic concerns</a>, Kump said his longshot legislation was an attempt to alleviate pressure brought on by the state's struggling manufacturing sector. It failed to gain support both among West Virginians and state legislators.