Texas v. White: What the U.S. Supreme Court Decided
Texas, like many other states, tried to secede from the union in the 1860s in order to join the Confederated States of America. The legality of the attempt of Texas to secede reached the United States Supreme Court in 1869.
One of the issues in the case of Texas v. White was whether or not Texas had the right to unilaterally leave the union. Writing for the court, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase wrote,
“When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final.”
The court went on to say that the union between Texas and the other states was as dissoluble as the union of the original States.
But the court left open the possibility of secession by revolution “or through consent of the States.” Leaving aside the fact that a successful revolution would see Texas leave the United States, the court does leave it open for secession provided it was done with the consent of all the states and presumably the consent of the federal government. But the chances of that happening are extremely unlikely.
Despite the fact that the Internet reveals many people out there who believe if enough people sign these petitions the country will break up, there is no legal basis for secession.
Should Barack Obama do the Hokey Pokey?
So what does the president doing the Hokey Pokey have to do with the secession of Texas and other states? Well, it too is the subject of a petition on We the People.
On November 9, David S. petitioned the United States government to have Obama dance the Hokey Pokey on television during a special presidential address. And the petitioner is asking the government to have the president lead with his right foot to show his support for bipartisanship.
This petition is unlikely to obtain 25,000 signatures within the required 30 day period. But if it did, it would receive the same consideration by White House staff as the petitions that call for the secession of individual states.
While the secession petitions are instructive in showing how some Americans are feel about their country after the November 6 election results became known, they do not constitute a legal basis for a breakup of the United States.
White House. We the People. (2012). Accessed November 15, 2012.
Legal Information Institute. Texas v. White. 100 U.S. 1 (1869). Accessed November 15, 2012.
Joseph Marks. How Technology is Changing Government. Accessed November 15, 2012.