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White House Responds to States' Secession Petitions

Responding to petitions from eight states calling for the right to secede, the White House has called for healthy debate, but to not let "that debate tear us apart."

By Maurice Chammah

Responding to petitions from Texas and seven other states calling for the right to secede, the White House has called for healthy debate, but to not let "that debate tear us apart." 

"In a nation of 300 million people -- each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs -- democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing," Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement, wrote in a statement called "Our States Remain United." "Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted." 

"Whether it's figuring out how to strengthen our economy, reduce our deficit in a responsible way, or protect our country," he added, "we will need to work together -- and hear from one another -- in order to find the best way to move forward." 

The White House's response addressed nine petitions filed on the White House's We the People website, which allows any petition to receive a response provided it gets 25,000 signatures. The petition asking for Texas secession, which noted that "it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union," received 125,746 signatures. Many of the individuals who signed, however, are not from Texas. 

The other state secession petitions addressed in the response came from Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina. 

The response echoes Gov. Rick Perry's statement in November, after the petition gathered steam. His spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, said the governor "believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it." 

But Americans have a right to be frustrated, she said, adding, "Now more than ever our country needs strong leadership from states like Texas, that are making tough decisions to live within their means, keep taxes low and provide opportunities to job creators so their citizens can provide for their families and prosper."

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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