Virginians, Marylanders petition to secede

Thursday - 11/15/2012, 10:38pm EST

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It sounds like something from 150 years ago. But there are petitions in 30 states to secede from the U.S.

Just don't count on that happening any time soon.

Those petitions have been filed on whitehouse.gov and include three separate requests from Virginians and one from Marylanders asking to "peacefully secede" from the U.S. and form a new country.

Thousands of people have signed the petitions. Texas' petition has received the most signatures.

But there is no legal way for that to happen, says Paul Rothstein a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University.

"There's nothing specifically in the Constitution that addresses it," says Rothstein.

"If they wanted to make it a constitutional move, they would have to amend the Constitution, which is a difficult process."

Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds of the members of Congrss to approve the change, then 38 states also must ratify it. That has happened only 27 times in U.S. history and accounts for 26 additions and one repeal to the government's framework.

Many people are looking at the rash of petitions as post-election frustration. Rothstein says that has happened from time-to-time in U.S. history.

The petitions have thousands of signatures, but have received little endorsement from elected officials.

When WTOP asked about the petitions, a spokesman for Virginia's Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell issued a one-word response: "Ridiculous."

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)