Ok, it’s official. Governor Sanford has rejected South Carolina’s share of the stimulus package, unless he is granted a waiver to pay down the state’s debt. It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing. The Governor’s action opens up the possibility of a constitutional crisis between Congress and the states.
Spending Clause jurisprudence requires that the state freely consent to conditional grants by the federal government. But not just any state official may give consent. The question of who is authorized to give consent to accept federal funding is a question of South Carolina state law, not federal law. Federal law can offer the states money to enforce federal mandates and even to pass legislation, but what it may not do is decide which state official is authorized to consent to federal grants that bind the state and its operations.”