South Carolina Constitution

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South Carolina Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIVIII-AIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVII
The South Carolina Constitution is the governing document of the state of South Carolina.

Features

The South Carolina Constitution describes the structure and function of the state's government. It consists of a preamble followed by 17 sections.[1]

Religious test

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."[2] These sections are:

Similarly, the Tennessee State Constitution contains this clause with like minded wording in Section 2 of Article 9 of the Tennessee Constitution.

Unusual provisions

  • 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."[1] 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.

Criticism

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.[3]

Preamble

See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the South Carolina Constitution states:

We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the preservation and perpetuation of the same.[1]

Article I: Declaration of Rights

Article I of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Declaration of Rights" and consists of 24 sections.

Article II: Right of Suffrage

Article II of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Right of Suffrage" and consists of eleven sections.

Article III: Legislative Department

Article III of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Legislative Department" and consists of 37 sections.

Article IV: Executive Department

Article IV of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Executive Department" and consists of 21 sections.

Article V: Judicial Department

Article V of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Judicial Department" and consists of 27 articles.

Article VI: Officers

Article VI of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Officers" and consists of nine sections.

Article VII: Counties and County Government

Article VII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Counties and County Government" and consists of 15 sections.

Article VIII: Local Government

Article VIII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Local Government" and consists of 18 sections.

Article VIII-A: Alcoholic Liquors and Beverages

Article VIII-A of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Alcoholic Liquors and Beverages" and consists of only one section.

Article IX: Corporations

Article IX of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Corporations" and consists of two sections.

Article X: Finance, Taxation and Bonded Debt

Article X of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Finance, Taxation and Bonded Debt" and consists of 16 sections.

Article XI: Public Education

Article XI of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Public Education" and consists of four sections.

Article XII: Functions of Government

Article XII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Functions of Government" and consists of nine sections, five of which are reserved.

Article XIII: Militia

Article XIII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Militia" and consists of five sections.

Article XIV: Eminent Domain

Article XIV of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Eminent Domain" and consists of five sections.

Article XV: Impeachment

Article XV of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Impeachment" and consists of three sections.

Article XVI: Amendment and Revision of the Constitution

Article XVI of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Amendment and Revision of the Constitution" and consists of three sections.

Article XVII: Miscellaneous Matters

Article XVII of the South Carolina Constitution is entitled "Miscellaneous Matters" and consists of 18 sections.

Amending the constitution

See also: Article XVI, South Carolina Constitution, Amending state constitutions

There are two paths to amending the South Carolina Constitution: legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and constitutional conventions.

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."

History

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.[4] "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."[4]

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."[4] Among other things, the 1895 constitution sought to keep African American from casting ballots through complicated voting procedures, poll taxes and literacy tests.[5] 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.

See also

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External links

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References