Fact Check

15 States Have Filed a Petition to Secede from the United States

Fifteen states have filed petitions to secede from the United States?

Published Nov 12, 2012

Claim:   Fifteen states have filed petitions to secede from the United States.


Example:   [Collected on the Internet, November 2012]

As of Saturday November 10, 2012, 15 States have petitioned the Obama Administration for withdrawal from the United States of America in order to create its own government.

States following this action include: Louisiana, Texas, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Colorado, Oregon and New York. These States have requested that the Obama Administration grant a peaceful withdrawal from the United States.


Origins:   The White House web site includes a section entitled "We the People" which allows visitors to create online petitions for political issues which others can electronically sign, with the expectation that once a petition reaches the given signature threshold it will be reviewed by the Administration and responded to. Since the November 2012
presidential election, a number of petitions have been established calling for the government to allow various states (such as Louisiana) to withdraw or secede from the United States of America. Most of these petitions have

garnered anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of e-signatures.

It is not true in a literal sense that any "states" have filed petitions to secede from the United states. None of the referenced petitions has been authorized or approved by a governor or other state representative, nor do they represent the majority of any state's citizenry having voted in favor of secession; they're all the product of individuals acting on their own. (Texas Governor Rick Perry, for example, issued a statement about such petitions affirming that he "believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it.")

Moreover, the petitions have no practical basis other than as expressions of political opinion. Neither the President of the United States nor any other official in the executive branch of the U.S. government has the power or authority to allow states to secede from the United States, nor does any element of U.S. law allow or provide for the secession of states from the U.S.

The Terms of Participation detailed in the We the People platform sets the signature threshold for petitions at 25,000 signatures within 30 days and states that any petition reaching this threshold will "require a response," and some state secession petitions, such as the one for Texas, have already reached that threshold. Whether the Administration will respond to such petitions is not guaranteed, however, as the Terms of Participation also state that:

To avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition.

Last updated:   12 November 2012

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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