Sanford Rejects SC’s Stimulus Money Prompting a Constitutional Crisis

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. 

As Jack M. Balkin, Yale Professor of Constitutional Law, points out on his blog Balkanization, Unless you can demonstrate that under South Carolina law, the South Carolina Legislature, acting alone, speaks for the State, it would seem to me that the governor’s consent is necessary.

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.” 

The last time South Carolina spurred a constitutional crisis, it did not end well for us or for the nation. (See American Civil WarIs this going to end the same way? Meantime, what happens to the people who need help? 

Oh, I remember: the faith community and non-profits will step in to save the day. 
Good luck on that. 

2 thoughts on “Sanford Rejects SC’s Stimulus Money Prompting a Constitutional Crisis

  1. From an academic, political perspective, I wonder if this could be the undoing of the GOP in South Carolina. Many of the party’s base constituents are in a world of hurt, Reagan Democrats, conservative blue collar workers, suburban Republicans.What the GOP fails to understand is that it’s easy to be a conservative when times are good. But when you’re laid off, your health insurance is about to run out, your credit card is almost maxed out, and the mortgage company is calling, you want help. Even from the government.So let the Republicans be the party of Herbert Hoover. What goes around comes around.Doug


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