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S.C . Constitutional Evolution Bob Botsch
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  1. S.C. Constitutional EvolutionBob Botsch

  2. Many governing documents over more than 300 years • Charters, Colonial Constitutions, and 7 Constitutions • All reflect dominant culture of the time • Post civil rights changes reflects painful cultural evolution    

  3. Charters -- under Lord Proprietors • Charters created basic outline of govstructure and power distribution in US as well as in SC • The Fundamental Constitutions • John Locke hired to helped write original • set up nobility based on land ownership – nobility never realized formally, but coastal elite (Charleston) arose • Gave some religious freedom • revised 5 times  between 1669 & 1698 on questions of trade • Failure--but the groundwork for a powerful legislature, an entrenched elite, and conflict between lowcountry and upcountry (rooted in geography—remember the fall line?

  4. Colonial Constitutions • Crown took over from Proprietors in 1729 • conflicts between “Commons House of Assembly” and Royal Governors • Commons House becomes dominant in mid 1700s • House centralizes authority-- sets a long standing theme for SC government • House acts to protect will of local landholders

  5. 1776 Constitution • Passed 3 months before July 4 • 2 house legislature • lower house popularly elected • they elected 13 member upper house • lower house also elected chief executive (called “president”), vp, & chief justice • President had veto power • Balance of power favored lowcountry

  6. 1778 Constitution • changes title of chief executive to “governor” • lower house still chose governor • upper house becomes elected • increases up-country to 40% of representation • legislature did not meet till after war • moved Capital to Columbia in 1786 to unify state

  7. 1790 Constitution • Created by constitutional convention that was malapportioned with low country having more delegates, despite pop differences (up: 112k; low: 29k) • Continued elite rule with property qualifications to hold office or vote (House member had to own 500 acres and 10 slaves; Senators 2x that) & low having more represetation • Voters had to own 50 acres or pay tax of 3 shillings sterling • Set stage for secession b/c slaveholding elites ran the state, so the state would protect their interests • Many local officials chosen by legislature • Weak governor: still elected by legislature -- no veto power • Amended in 1808 to equalize representation between up and lo country—but that still did not reflect population differences

  8. 1861 Constitution • little change in powers • wording changed to fit CSA confederal form of government

  9. 1865 Constitution • written by white ex-confederates • minimal concessions to blacks • abolished slavery—but no civil rights • House apportioned by white population/wealth • better up/low country balance reduced some regional tensions • But Charleston still got extra senator • Governor given veto and one 4 yr term • End property requirements for office • The new state government enacted the "black codes." • All this helped lead to demands from the Radical Republican national Congress for a new state constitution

  10. 1868 Constitution • forced by Reconstruction Acts • freedmen majority at convention • submitted to voters for ratification --  a 1st! • representation on population alone – finally! • popular election of presidential electors • created counties to replace parishes and districts • Significant reforms: no debtor’s prison, free public education, women’s rights • Was to fail b/c of white resistance to blacks having any political power

  11. 1895 Constitution -- motivation • Vehicle for control by “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman supporters • Eliminate blacks (58% of population) from politics (replacing fear, fraud, and intimidation with laws) • Up country elites’ fear that low country white “moderates” usually won with black votes • Call for convention barely passed

  12. 1895 Constitution -- provisions • Added barriers to black suffrage: property, literacy, crimes, residency • “Legislative delegation” system of rule for local government (no home rule!) • Reduced governor’s appointments • Gave governors budget line-item veto • Charleston lost extra senator • Maintained popular civil rights from 1868, e.g. some legal rights for women and public education

  13. Amending the 1895 Constitution • 330 amendments passed thru 1966 • Most focused on bond debt limits • Other states modernizing their constitutions • Civil rights revolution • Study commission in late 1960s • Recommended 17 new articles (e.g. unified court system and home rule) • Process began in 1970 – still not complete

  14. Post 1970s Revisions • Five articles revised in 1971 (e.g. Personal rights—close to bill of rights; Voting rights; Regulation of corporations streamlined; Legislature must provide agencies to provide services) • Seven in 1972 (e.g. gubernatorial succession; unified court system at least in principle; end of special legislation for local govt, at least in principle) • Slower changes and slow implementation since then—legislature drags its feet to maintain its powers

  15. Substance of major changes • Accommodate civil/voting rights driven more by national actions that state actions (e.g. interracial marriage and one person one vote) • Stronger governor: 2 terms (1981) and limited cabinet to reduce fragmentation • Unified court system plus appeals court • Home rule for local government (incomplete, especially in area of finance—fiscal home rule) • Allow“education” lottery (vote in 2000)