© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

Petitions Ask for Kentucky, Other States, to Secede

President Obama has been re-elected, a new Congress is taking shape and the American citizenry is ready to move on to tackle the various challenging issues before the nation.Perhaps not all of the citizenry. At least a small fraction of people in several states are more interested in calling an end to the Union. Here's an Internet petition asking to  remove Kentucky from the United States:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Peacefully grant the State of Kentucky to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.

More than 5,000 people had "signed" the Kentucky secession petition as of Monday afternoon, created Saturday by a "Wesley C." The petition appears on the WhiteHouse.govwebsite, of all places, in a section where citizens are encouraged to exercise the First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The petitions are user generated. The section, called "We the People,"says:

"We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."

So far, succession petitions have been made for several states.  The Texas petition appears to be leading the way -- it has more than 25,000 signers since beginning Friday. Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and New Jersey are just a few of the other states where hundreds or thousands are signatories to similar secession petitions on the White House website. This, of course, will lead to nothing, except perhaps a minor embarrassment for the Obama administration's attempt to engage people directly on issues. The 1869 Supreme Court case Texas v. White settled the secession matter, stating:

The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and [p725] arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these, the Union was solemnly declared to "be perpetual." And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained "to form a more perfect Union." It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?

And, of course, a bloody, terrible war that left about 620,000 American soldiers -- if you combine the Union and Confederacy -- settled the matter, too. Still, a 2008 Zogby poll found that  22 percent of Americans believed that a state or region should have the right to peaceably secede and forge new republics. Support was only slightly higher in the South -- which, again, had once seceded -- than the rest of the country, the Middlebury Institute said. And support was strongest among young Americans -- 40 percent of people 18-24 supporting the rights of states to secede. Somewhere, Igor Panarin is flashing an I-told-you-so grin, albeit severely prematurely. Update: Just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, 11,600-plus people had "signed" the Kentucky petition. The Texas petition has more than 64,000. Update: Here's what Kentucky Public Radio has to say: 

  Support is growing for an online petition for Kentucky’s secession from the U.S. The petition was posted just days after President Obama was re-elected last week. It’s logged with the Obama Administration’s We The People program. The White House promises it will respond to any petition that receives at least 25,000 signatures within 30 days. The online petition currently has more than 5,000 signatures, but does not require those signing the document to be residents of Kentucky, many of which are not.


Murray State Political Science Professor Winfield Rose says secession could occur under a referendum vote but he says there is little chance of something like that happening.


Although he sees no real outcome from the petition, Rose says the petition itself is a mark of how dissatisfied a group of Americans are with the current administration. 


“The whole thing is just bizarre," Rose said. For a state like Kentucky to talk about seceding from the Union is just absurdity on stilts."

Update: And the Atlantic Wire is asking, "Which State Wants Out of the U.S. Most?" Update: Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville, addresses for WFPLwhat would happen if Kentucky actually seceded from the Union.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.