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Ron Paul: Secession is right, Civil War maybe not

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National Constitution Center

Outgoing Republican U.S. representative Ron Paul has waded into the secession debate, saying that states have the right to leave the Union, and that the Civil War may not have been “right.”


The libertarian politician made the comments on his official House website.

The latest secession controversy was started by a series of petitions on a White House website called We the People. They asked the Obama administration to comment on the possible secession of Texas, Louisiana, and other states after the president defeated Mitt Romney earlier this month.

The Texas petition received about 115,000 online signatures as of Tuesday morning, with a number of people not living in Texas signing up.

Paul’s comments were picked up on political websites on Monday night.

“While I wouldn’t hold my breath on Texas actually seceding, I believe these petitions raise a lot of worthwhile questions about the nature of our union,” Paul said.

“Many think the question of secession was settled by our Civil War. On the contrary; the principles of self-governance and voluntary association are at the core of our founding.  Clearly Thomas Jefferson believed secession was proper, albeit as a last resort,” he added.

“Keep in mind that the first and third paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence expressly contemplate the dissolution of a political union when the underlying government becomes tyrannical.Do we have a ‘government without limitation of powers’ yet? The Federal government kept the Union together through violence and force in the Civil War, but did might really make right?” Paul added.

Legally, there is little evidence that any secessionist movement would have a chance of winning a legal challenge.

Constitution Daily contributor Lyle Denniston outlined the issue last week for us.

“No state, however frustrated some of its citizens may be with the present state of government in America, is going to be able to leave the Union and go its own way. That is one of the most firmly settled issues on the meaning of the Constitution,” Denniston said.

The issue was settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Texas v. White in 1869, and the only theoretical path to secession would be the passage of a constitutional amendment.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia confirmed that opinion in 2006, when he responded to a letter from a screenwriter, who was writing a fictional story about Maine dumping the U.S. to join Canada.

“To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.(Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, “one Nation, indivisible.”) Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit,” Scalia said.

Paul didn’t bring up the issue of slavery in the Civil War on his official House website, but he has discussed it in the past.

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In 2007, Paul told “Meet The Press” said that the North should have bought the slaves living in the South and freed them, rather than pursue a war.

“Every other country in the world got rid of slavery without a Civil War,” Paul told Tim Russert.

In another undated video on YouTube, Paul told an audience that slavery was an important factor in the Civil War, but not the biggest reason the conflict was fought.

“It really wasn’t the issue of why the war was fought in my estimation,” he said.

Paul said that Abraham Lincoln, like Alexander Hamilton, believed that central government should benefit the industrial base in the North, along with a central banking system.

“When they saw this opportunity, they used the issue of slavery to precipitate the war and literally cancel out the whole concept of individual choice,” he said.


Sensing Victory, Romney Turns Attention to Obama Fight

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Republican Party (United States)

ReutersBy Steve Holland | Reuters – 2 hrs 34 mins ago

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses supporters at Lawrence University during a campaign stop in Appleton, Wisconsin, March 30, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

              At the start of a five-day blitz in Wisconsin that could prove crucial to the Republican race, Romney ignored his three party rivals and tried to position himself as the presumed nominee to face Obama in the November 6 election.

              A new poll put Romney ahead of conservative Rick Santorum in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary where the front-runner would take a large step toward becoming the nominee if he wins.

              Romney, the former head of a private equity firm, said Americans face a stark choice in the November election over which direction to take the country in.

“He (Obama) has spent the last four years laying the foundation for a new government-centered society. I will spend the next four years rebuilding the foundation of our opportunity society, led by free people and free enterprises,” he said.

The prolonged Republican campaign, pitting Romney against a series of conservative challengers who have fallen short, is entering what could be a decisive phase.

A Wisconsin victory on Tuesday, combined with potential wins on that day in Maryland and Washington, D.C., would put more distance between Romney and Santorum and make it nearly impossible to catch him. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are also in the race but not campaigning as heavily.

The White House hopefuls are in a state-by-state battle to accumulate the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination. Romney leads with an estimated 565 delegates, according to Real Clear Politics, followed by Santorum with 256, Gingrich with 141 and Paul with 66.

The next big primary date, April 24, looms as increasingly important with six states to vote and Romney expected to win at least five of them. Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania is the only question mark and Romney plans to campaign there.

But Tuesday’s vote will be significant as well. Romney got a big boost in Wisconsin with the endorsement of the Midwestern state’s Representative Paul Ryan, the powerful chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Ryan, who introduced Romney in Appleton, is a popular figure among conservatives and a potential vice presidential choice for the Republican nominee. His backing could further help Romney with those conservatives who fear he is too moderate and untrustworthy.


Speaking to Fox News, Ryan said the Republican race has gone on long enough and that it is time to rally around Romney.

“I think we’re entering a phase where it could become counterproductive if this drags on much longer,” he said.

Romney enters the Wisconsin campaign with a lead in the state’s polls over Santorum.

              The former Massachusetts governor won support from 40 percent of likely primary voters while former Pennsylvania Senator Santorum got 33 percent in an NBC/Marist poll on Friday.

              Texas Representative Paul was at 11 percent and former House of Representatives Speaker Gingrich had 8 percent.

A Romney victory in Wisconsin, said Republican strategist Rich Galen, would be further evidence of what many Republicans think, “that this is essentially over, that Romney has gone from the front-runner to being the prohibitive nominee.”

Romney’s speech in Appleton was a sign that his campaign believes it is time to begin focusing even harder on Obama, who will have the advantage of incumbency and many millions of dollars to spend on his re-election effort.

Romney made a case that Obama’s economic strategy has been a “bust,” and laid out a number of specific accusations, that 800,000 jobs have been lost under Obama, 46 million people now live in poverty, just as many on food stamps, and 2.8 million homes have been foreclosed upon.

He said Obama has become disconnected with everyday Americans – the same charge Democrats make about the wealthy Romney.

“He (Obama) remains surrounded by true believers who attack anyone who challenges their power. And, as we see each day, they will fight even more fiercely to hold on to that power. All of this is to be expected,” said Romney, reading his speech from a teleprompter.

              “That power loves power and never lets go easily is hardly new. And that a White House has lost touch, well, I think we’ve seen that once or twice before,” he said.

              To underscore the Romney case against Santorum, his campaign played over the sound system the Kenny Rogers’ song, “The Gambler.” Former President George H.W. Bush had cited a “you have to know when to fold ’em” line from the song in endorsing Romney on Thursday and urging Romney’s rivals to step aside.

              Santorum has vowed to stay in the race and is unlikely to withdraw no matter the Wisconsin outcome, but a loss could impact the amount of money he is able to raise and put further pressure on him.

              “At some point reality has to set in and he’s got to realize that there is no path to victory here,” said Jennifer Duffy, political expert at the non-partisan Cook Political Report. “Either come up with a different rationalization for staying in, which I think will be tough, or get out and call it a day.”

              (Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric Beech)

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