South Carolina Constitution
|South Carolina Constitution|
|I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • VIII-A • IX • X • XI • XII • XIII • XIV • XV • XVI • XVII|
- 1 Features
- 2 Preamble
- 3 Article I: Declaration of Rights
- 4 Article II: Right of Suffrage
- 5 Article III: Legislative Department
- 6 Article IV: Executive Department
- 7 Article V: Judicial Department
- 8 Article VI: Officers
- 9 Article VII: Counties and County Government
- 10 Article VIII: Local Government
- 11 Article VIII-A: Alcoholic Liquors and Beverages
- 12 Article IX: Corporations
- 13 Article X: Finance, Taxation and Bonded Debt
- 14 Article XI: Public Education
- 15 Article XII: Functions of Government
- 16 Article XIII: Militia
- 17 Article XIV: Eminent Domain
- 18 Article XV: Impeachment
- 19 Article XVI: Amendment and Revision of the Constitution
- 20 Article XVII: Miscellaneous Matters
- 21 Amending the constitution
- 22 History
- 23 See also
- 24 External links
- 25 Additional reading
- 26 References
The South Carolina Constitution describes the structure and function of the state's government. It consists of a preamble followed by 17 sections.
Two sections of the South Carolina Constitution effectively establish a religious test. This may be in conflict with Article Six of the United States Constitution, which bans such qualifications when it states, "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." These sections are:
- Section 2 of Article VI of the South Carolina Constitution states "No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution."
- Section 4 of Article XVII of the South Carolina Constitution states, "No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution."
Similarly, the Tennessee State Constitution contains this clause with like minded wording in Section 2 of Article 9 of the Tennessee Constitution.
- Article IV, Section 2 (Qualifications of Governor) states the following: "No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being." This provision is not enforced in modern times. The current precedent provides that the First Amendment's Establishment Clause is binding on the states per the 14th Amendment's liberty clause.
- A constitutional amendment must be approved by two-thirds of each house of the legislature. After house approval, it must be approved by the people in an election. After popular approval, it must then be ratified by a majority of each house of the legislature. If the legislature fails to ratify, then the amendment does not take effect, even though it has been approved by the people. (Section 1, Article XVI, South Carolina Constitution)
- Section 3, Article XVII, South Carolina Constitution prohibited divorce for any reason. On April 15, 1949, it was revised to permit divorce but only for certain reasons. The South Carolina Constitution is the only state in which the grounds for divorce are written into the constitution. The legislature is thus prohibited from creating additional grounds for divorce except by constitutional amendment.
John L.S. Simpkins, an associate professor at the Charleston School of Law, asserts that the South Carolina General Assembly has "outsized influence" in the state's governmental structure due to its sweeping constitutional authority. When one considers that key decisions such as judicial merit selection are made by the legislative body, which means that there is no balance of powers in South Carolina. "The General Assembly reigns supreme because that is the way the constitution intends it to be," Simpkins said.
- See also: Preambles to state constitutions
The preamble to the South Carolina Constitution states:
Article I of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Declaration of Rights" and consists of 24 sections.
Article II of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Right of Suffrage" and consists of eleven sections.
Article III of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Legislative Department" and consists of 37 sections.
Article IV of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Executive Department" and consists of 21 sections.
Article V of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Judicial Department" and consists of 27 articles.
Article VI of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Officers" and consists of nine sections.
Article VII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Counties and County Government" and consists of 15 sections.
Article VIII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Local Government" and consists of 18 sections.
Article VIII-A of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Alcoholic Liquors and Beverages" and consists of only one section.
Article IX of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Corporations" and consists of two sections.
Article X of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Finance, Taxation and Bonded Debt" and consists of 16 sections.
Article XI of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Public Education" and consists of four sections.
Article XII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Functions of Government" and consists of nine sections, five of which are reserved.
Article XIII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Militia" and consists of five sections.
Article XIV of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Eminent Domain" and consists of five sections.
Article XV of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Impeachment" and consists of three sections.
Article XVI of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Amendment and Revision of the Constitution" and consists of three sections.
Article XVII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Miscellaneous Matters" and consists of 18 sections.
Amending the constitution
The rules governing legislatively-referred constitutional amendments are:
- Amendments can be proposed in either chamber of the South Carolina State Legislature.
- If "two-thirds of the members elected to each House" vote in favor, the amendment goes on the next general election ballot.
- If a simple majority of those voting on the amendment approve it, the amendment then goes back to the state legislature.
- "A majority of each branch of the next General Assembly, after the election and before another" must ratify the amendment.
- If there is more than one proposed amendment on a ballot, the amendments must be separated so voters can vote on them separately.
The rules governing constitutional conventions are:
- "Two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly" must vote in favor of putting a question about whether to hold a convention on a statewide ballot.
- A simple majority vote of the state's electors is sufficient to bring about a convention.
- "...such Convention shall consist of a number of members equal to that of the most numerous branch of the General Assembly."
The current state constitution was adopted in 1895. South Carolina has had six other constitutions, which were adopted in 1776, 1778, 1790, 1861, 1865 and 1868.
Unhappy with post-Civil War changes written into the 1868 state constitution, South Carolina Governor Ben Tillman called for a convention that passed the 1895 constitution.
The 1868 constitution was modeled after that of Ohio, according to a 1977 article written by Clemson political scientist Harold E. Albert. "It has been described as one of the most progressive, most democratic constitutions South Carolina ever had," Albert wrote. "Certainly this was true as far as counties and municipalities were concerned. Local governments were granted power to govern."
This disappeared with the 1895 constitution, according to Albert. "The 1895 constitution changed this drastically and made local governments virtually wards of the state. Local governments, and especially county government, became almost totally a function of the General Assembly, and remained so until the reapportionment decisions of the 1960s began to force changes in the legislatures composition which foreshadowed greater home rule for local governments." Among other things, the 1895 constitution sought to keep African American from casting ballots through complicated voting procedures, poll taxes and literacy tests. The 1895 constitution also banned interracial marriages, including a section that read: "The marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto, or person who shall have one-eighth or more of Negro blood, shall be unlawful and void." Moreover, the 1895 constitution mandated state control of alcohol traffic.
- State constitution
- Constitutional article
- Constitutional amendment
- Constitutional revision
- Constitutional convention
- South Carolina State House, "South Carolina Constitution"
- Sciway, "South Carolina – Historical Documents
- The South Carolina Governance Project, "The Governor: Powers, Practices, Roles and the South Carolina Experience"
- History Engine, "The South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1895"
- Constitution of South Carolina 1790
- Constitution of South Carolina 1868
- History.com, "March 26, 1776: South Carolina approves new constitution"
- Graham, Cole Blease. (2011). The South Carolina State Constitution, New York, New York: Oxford University Press
- South Carolina State House, "South Carolina Constitution," accessed March 30, 2014
- Archives.gov, "United States Constitution," accessed March 30, 2014
- The Post and Courier, "Legislative session shows the need to restructure," accessed March 30, 2014
- Albert, Harold E. "Home Rule and a New Constitution," National Civic Review, November 1977
- The South Carolina Governance Project, "The Governor: Powers, Practices, Roles and the South Carolina Experience," accessed March 30, 2014