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Law School Case Brief

Bd. of Trs. of the Sch. Dist. v. State - 395 S.C. 276, 718 S.E.2d 210 (2011)

Rule:

The constitution allows the legislative branch to override the executive branch—but that legislative power is limited and circumscribed by the heightened vote requirement.

Facts:

The General Assembly of South Carolina passed Act 308, which transferred the oversight of financial operations of the school district from its board of trustees to a finance committee to be appointed by the legislative delegation. The Governor Sanford vetoed Act 308. the House of Representatives voted to override the Governor's veto by a vote of 33 to 10. At the time of the vote, a quorum (or majority) of the House was present. Specifically, 120 representatives were present for roll call, although only 43 representatives voted on the matter. The Senate voted 1 to 0 to override the Governor's veto. On that day, although a quorum of the Senate was present, only Fairfield County Senator Creighton Coleman voted. The 1 to 0 vote was in accordance with a purported "long-held precedent in the Senate where members do not vote on legislation affecting solely one county, also known as local legislation." The Board filed a complaint against the State in circuit court challenging the constitutionality of Act 308. The circuit court granted the Board a temporary restraining order. The General Assembly then moved to intervene, after which the Board and the State jointly petitioned this Court to take the case in its original jurisdiction.

Issue:

Was Act 308 properly vetoed by the Governor?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that Act 308 had been vetoed by the Governor. The Court rejected the General Assembly's recently adopted practice of allowing only one member of a local delegation to carry a bill affecting only that locality, which circumvented and violated the mandated two-thirds requirement for overriding a veto in S.C. Const. art. IV, § 21. Because a quorum was present in each house, the veto override votes of 33 to 10 in the House of Representatives and 1 to 0 in the Senate fell short of the constitutionally mandated two-thirds requirement, which required two-thirds of a quorum. Therefore, the Governor's veto was sustained.

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