Law School Case Brief
Bd. of Trs. of the Sch. Dist. v. State - 395 S.C. 276, 718 S.E.2d 210 (2011)
The constitution allows the legislative branch to override the executive branch—but that legislative power is limited and circumscribed by the heightened vote requirement.
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.
Was Act 308 properly vetoed by the Governor?
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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