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Gov. Sanford Sues Legislature:

The South Carolina state legislature passed a budget purporting to require Governor Marc Sanford to accept $350 million of federal stimulus money. Governor Sanford has responded by filing suit against the state legislature. According to The State:

Sanford said the case is about power, not money, and who will have it.

"This is not about the vetoes, and it's not about the stimulus," Sanford said. "What this case is ultimately about is balance of power in this state.

"This is about the larger question of why have a governor if their hands are constantly tied?"

Sanford had refused to accept the money unless the state pays off an equal amount of debt, something state lawmakers said they could not afford to do this year because the state has cut $1 billion from its budget. The budget, approved Wednesday, requires Sanford to accept the money within five days.

Lawmakers, the governor said, have overstepped their authority and tried to rewrite federal law.

But members of the GOP-controlled General Assembly said the Republican governor has lost the debate and it is time to move on. Otherwise, a July 1 deadline from the U.S. Department of Education means South Carolina could lose a portion of its stimulus money, they said.

Here is the complaint. Meanwhile, a second suit has been filed against the Governor to force him to accept the money.

Oren:
You might have forgotten a link at "Here is the complaint."

[Thanks. Fixed. JHA]
5.22.2009 9:58pm
RPT (mail):
Yes, this is certainly about power. No need to consider the interests of south Carolinians.
5.22.2009 10:14pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
RPT: Would that be the long-term or the short-term insterests of South Carolinians?

In the short term, sure... take the money and run. That's the way our corrupt legislatures stay in power.

In the long term, it might be nice to stop congressional over-reach and greed, if only on the state level. I think it will take an atomic bomb to change it at the national level.
5.22.2009 10:19pm
Jared_:
Can someone explain to me on what possible grounds Sanford could base such a challenge? That the legislature is tying his hands by overriding his vetoes is far from a legal argument.
5.22.2009 10:26pm
Jim M (mail):
And this dope has ideas of running for President? Get over it. Your veto was overridden. If you don't want to do your duty, resign the office. It is one thing to be a politician and position yourself, it is something completely different to show absolute contempt for the Constitution of the state.If the people don't like what the Legislature of South Carolina did, they can vote them out. That is the way our system of Democracy works.

I respected and appreciated Sanford's position prior to this. Now he is just an idiotic loon who has no place being in a position of power since he has complete contempt for the way the system is set up.
5.22.2009 10:37pm
Jim M (mail):
I completely missed that he filed in Federal court. What the heck is he thinking? He is playing games now. This is a 100% State issue. This guy is as bad as Blago.
5.22.2009 10:40pm
Anon21:
Jim M: I gather, from what I've been reading about this situation up to this time, that Sanford's position is that the acceptance of federal stimulus funds is not the legislature's decision to make, regardless of the majority that the legislature can muster in support of taking that money. If he is correct as a matter of state constitutional law, it would seem not to matter that his veto has been overriden, as the legislature, on this theory, is acting ultra vires. I agree with you that filing the challenge in federal court doesn't appear to make any sense, and I express no view on the merits of Sanford's argument under the SC state constitution.

Substantively, I think he's an idiot to try to pay down debt in the middle of a recession, and I can't really tell if he's dangerously misinformed or just completely willing to sacrifice his constituents' interests in order to favorably position himself for a presidential bid which may well be DOA, so far as he knows right now.
5.22.2009 10:45pm
Oren:
Jim, this could be a dramatic prelude to resignation -- a court case that he knows won't win but will stir up the pot?
5.22.2009 10:48pm
Jim M (mail):
Oren, maybe. I think I would feel better about him just resigning for that purpose instead of trying to sabotage the legal of will of the Legislature. If his goal is to stonewall this until after the deadline date for filing and force a special session, I would never trust this guy for any other political office. I would actually hope that the Legislature would consider impeachment in that case.

All that aside, I just hope this is tossed out of court quickly to prevent him from being successful in whatever his goal may be. I guess I have no tolerance for political stunts in the legal system. But, that seems to be what our leaders of devolved to. The children are in control and the parents have left the room.
5.22.2009 11:04pm
Gabriel McCall (mail):
Substantively, I think he's an idiot to try to pay down debt in the middle of a recession,

Um... I'm paying down debt in the middle of a recession. Does that make me an idiot? Seems to me like paying down debt is always a good idea. The argument that the way to get out of the hole we've dug by overspending and undersaving is to spend even more and save even less has never been very convincing for me.
5.22.2009 11:25pm
Allan (mail):
Actually, Gabriel, if you can take on debt at a reasonable rate in a recession, and you are paying down debt... Only if you expect the recession to last for 10 years or so would paying down debt now be a great idea.
5.22.2009 11:48pm
Acheronx:
If the federal statute endows the governor with the sole discretion to choose to accept funds, I don't see how a state legislature can overrule the federal law with a general appropriations statute. The federal statute would clearly preempt any such law. That's why the lawsuit was filed in federal court, because it's a federal law interpretation issue. Further, the federal court would have supplemental jurisdiction over the state law constitutional claims.

I'm not as up to speed on preemption as I used to be, but it seems the governor has a pretty good case of at least implied preemption. Further, the White House has publicly backed his interpretation of the law. I'd be interested to see what position the Solicitor General's office takes.
5.23.2009 12:08am
Nick056:
This is about the larger question of why be a governor if you're not angling to run for President?

My understanding is that this stands to raise his profile nationwide -- and to raise his popularity among Republicans and anti-stimulus conservatives nationwide -- even as it has adverse effects on his SC numbers.

Perhaps he's acting out of singular principle, butfew politicians without national aspirations would embark on this course of action.
5.23.2009 12:35am
one of many:
Erg what type of recession are you talking about Allan, one where interest rates are low and economic opportunities abound? The equation for sensible taking on debt and paying down debt is the same recession or boom - is the amount of benefit from having the money higher than the cost. If you borrow at 8% and only expect to make 4% annually or have a 6% loan and can only invest the money at a 1% return then debt is a bad idea while if you can borrow at 12% and expect a 20% return then debt is a good idea even at a high rate. Of course if you are confident that the economy will recover soon and you know which companies will rebound it is a good idea to borrow heavily and invest while the stock market is down, but that's just inviting reality to smack you in the face with a 10 year recession. This should be an individual choice though, some people might find that their circumstances make the benefits now outweigh the cost of taking debt on (a good time to buy a new car for instance, if you need a new car), but the equation should remain the same - do the benefits of the debt outweigh the costs?
5.23.2009 12:37am
Cornellian (mail):
I completely missed that he filed in Federal court. What the heck is he thinking?

I'd be interested in reading his jurisdictional statement. It's not obvious why a federal court would have jurisdiction over this dispute. Maybe he's going to argue that the federal law referring to acceptance by the state governor effectively prevents a legislature from overriding the governor's decision. Of course that looks more like a defense than a claim, so maybe he's going for some artful drafting and a declaratory judgment action. It would be quite the irony if he were to throw in his lot with the very federal legislation he was complaining about.
5.23.2009 2:35am
Thoughtful (mail):
Someone being forced to take money and spend it!

I can't help but recall the scene in Atlas Shrugged were Galt is being tortured to agree to become economic dictator of the country. I sure hope it all ends in a lawsuit and the legislature doesn't have to resort to waterboarding Sanford.
5.23.2009 2:43am
Linda Mae (mail):
Oh, wow, I've lost my job, I've no money in my checking account and forget the savings. The mortgage is due. Plus the car loan. Plus the kids need new shoes. Don't forget the food for the table. What should I do?

I know!!! :) I'll do what Papa Obama does! I'll take out my credit card and spend, spend, spend. Oh - what is this? A credit card application has just arrived in the mail addressed to my 3 year old. Was this a mistake? Oh no. I get it. It's a card to use to spend , spend, spend. I think I'll get cable. A new boat. Really like a new TV. The old one is only 32 inches. New computer. I can get it all on my 3 year old's credit card. Thanks, Papa Obama, for your help. I wonder if I can find a card application for my 2 year old? Let's see, I'm about to give birth in 2010 - another card. Another kid to pay for my spending today.

That this governor has integrity and refuses to condemn more babies to pay for the idiotic spending of our government is laudable. Good for him. At present we have borrowed 46 out of every $1.00 we are spending. That is as foolish as taking out credit cards for every child under 5. WE hear the line "We are doing this for the children." No! We are doing it "to the children." Palin just told her Legislature that she will not be a party to spending money that the State will not have once the Feds stop paying. That's like getting another credit card in 2010 to pay off the ones we are using today. Where did these idiots learn about money management? How to budget? I keep reminding myself that they are only Lawyers and only think of money as billable hours. Well, it's time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their children and say NO, NO, NO. Add a few Shames to the mix. Plus, a "get some education in how to run a household - simple accounting - assets and liabilities - what comes in and what goes out. Whatever you call it. Fiduciary responsibility? Being a grown up?
5.23.2009 2:54am
Zubon (www):
But members of the GOP-controlled General Assembly said the Republican governor has lost the debate and it is time to move on.

Is this a debating technique that works generally? I mean, if "you've lost, move on" works, I can win pretty much any argument for the rest of my life, until other people start noticing and using it first. Then I might need to resort to, "no, you've lost!"
5.23.2009 3:41am
rosetta's stones:

But a number of items Sanford had highlighted were overturned, including requiring state colleges and others to pay for traffic control at sporting events and allowing the privatization of state-run golf courses and state plane maintenance and operations.

Lawmakers argued ticket taxes paid for traffic control, the state could run golf courses more efficiently, and state plane maintenance was more reliable than private services.



So, the SC legislature feels that operating golf courses and aircraft maintenance are critical functions of state government?

So much for desperate times. I think we can see Sanford's point, even if he may not have a legitimate legal one.

Let's be clear, every state will look like California right now, if they don't exercise some fiscal discipline. And the federal government is forcing them in the other direction, unbelievably enough. This is madness.
5.23.2009 9:51am
Recovering Law Grad:
As an Obama supporter, I will throw a party if Sanford wins the nomination in '12.
5.23.2009 10:21am
Brett Bellmore:
It's perfectly believable. Latest news is that Obama plans to condition a federal bailout of California on their altering their state constitution to his liking.

He wants to destroy the states as independent power centers. Driving them into bankruptcy so that they become irreversibly dependent on federal handouts is a ration means to that end. That's the fate Sanford is trying to evade, and evading it is hardly likely to be painless given the power of the federal government.
5.23.2009 10:26am
Sanford1:
The federal question is the interpretation of the federal stimulus bill. The state constitutional question is under pendant jurisdiction. It will be certified to the state supreme court.

In South Carolina, there is no provision that allows the governor to put a question directly to the supreme court. It has to state in the trial court, and go up on appeal. By going to federal court, and getting the question certified to the state supreme court, it will actually result in a FASTER trip to the state supreme court.

Of course, the cynic in me says it is just a delay tactic, since once the June 1 deadline for asking for the money from the feds passes, Sanford wins.
5.23.2009 10:36am
martinned (mail) (www):
I'm with Sanford1: The governor seems to have a non-frivolous case, and putting it before a federal court seems like the practical thing to do.
5.23.2009 11:10am
RPT (mail):
"JB:

RPT: Would that be the long-term or the short-term insterests of South Carolinians?"

Neither. Mark ("beachfront mansion for sale") Sanford, like Rick ("stimulus fund my mansion") Perry, has no concern at all for any SC interest, long or short term, besides his own personal ambition. America, this is your "conservative idol".
5.23.2009 11:26am
MarkField (mail):

Latest news is that Obama plans to condition a federal bailout of California on their altering their state constitution to his liking.


If it's federal tax money at stake, then Obama can damn well condition it any way he wants. That's exactly what any other investor would do. If one of the byproducts is that CA gets an actual republican form of government -- one run by, you know, majority rule -- then two birds, one stone.
5.23.2009 12:18pm
rosetta's stones:

If it's federal tax money at stake, then Obama can damn well condition it any way he wants. That's exactly what any other investor would do. If one of the byproducts is that CA gets an actual republican form of government -- one run by, you know, majority rule -- then two birds, one stone.


My goodness, these sentences are so disturbing, on so many levels, in so many directions, it's hard to know where to begin.

I think I'll just let it rest there.
5.23.2009 12:34pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> If it's federal tax money at stake, then Obama can damn well condition it any way he wants. That's exactly what any other investor would do.

Hmm. I seem to remember that certain folks conditioned their loans on being granted "secured" status, making them senior to other debtors.

Why are those conditions less worthy than Obama's?
5.23.2009 1:34pm
cubanbob (mail):
Sanford is spot on. If he wins the nomination in 2012 I will throw a party.

California would be better off impounding its tax contributions to the feds and using the money to cover its budget shortfall. Since the federal government is a creation of the state, just exactly whose money is it? Although I truly believe the best thing for California in the long run is to go bankrupt (technically it would be a default) , forcing it to dismantle the welfare-unionist cancer, the prospect of the states clipping the feds money supply is also a beautiful thing. Since most of the money spent by both the states and feds does not actually directly benefit the people who actually pay the taxes, it really does not matter to the net taxpayers if either or both go bankrupt. As Henry Kissinger once said about the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's, the best possible outcome would be if they both lost. Perhaps Obama just might unintentionally bring the change this country needs, the dismantling of the welfare-union state. I fervently hope we should be so fortunate.
5.23.2009 2:14pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Cubanbob - Agreed. As I said above, it would be awesome if Sanford wins the nomination. It really could be the final nail in the cofin.
5.23.2009 2:25pm
Brett Bellmore:

If it's federal tax money at stake, then Obama can damn well condition it any way he wants.


What's at issue is that he'd want to. And you don't see any problem at all with the federal government taxing a state's citizens, and then giving some of that money to the state government, conditioned on things the federal government has no authority to demand?
5.23.2009 2:42pm
John McCall (mail):
Sanford really doesn't have a leg to stand on. The original federal bill said that state legislatures could accept the money directly. Now, that's clearly unconstitutional, because a state must follow its own processes to decide whether to accept the money; generally that involves writing a bill to accept it, which then gets passed in the normal way — which is exactly what happened her. The legislature passed a bill, the governor vetoed that bill, and then the legislature overrode his veto. The governor doesn't have an unconditional veto for the simple fact that the state constitution doesn't give him one, and rightfully so. Whether the governor likes it or not, the state of South Carolina has accepted the federal stimulus money, because it successfully passed a bill declaring acceptance before the deadline.
5.23.2009 3:10pm
Anononymous314:
The US is dead. It has devolved into a barbaric wasteland, where group A sues group B, to attach their bloodsucking tentacles to group C, the victim of all governments, the taxpayer.
5.23.2009 3:27pm
cubanbob (mail):
"Anon21:
Jim M: I gather, from what I've been reading about this situation up to this time, that Sanford's position is that the acceptance of federal stimulus funds is not the legislature's decision to make, regardless of the majority that the legislature can muster in support of taking that money. If he is correct as a matter of state constitutional law, it would seem not to matter that his veto has been overriden, as the legislature, on this theory, is acting ultra vires. I agree with you that filing the challenge in federal court doesn't appear to make any sense, and I express no view on the merits of Sanford's argument under the SC state constitution.

Substantively, I think he's an idiot to try to pay down debt in the middle of a recession, and I can't really tell if he's dangerously misinformed or just completely willing to sacrifice his constituents' interests in order to favorably position himself for a presidential bid which may well be DOA, so far as he knows right now.
5.22.2009 10:45pm"

"Acheronx:
If the federal statute endows the governor with the sole discretion to choose to accept funds, I don't see how a state legislature can overrule the federal law with a general appropriations statute. The federal statute would clearly preempt any such law. That's why the lawsuit was filed in federal court, because it's a federal law interpretation issue. Further, the federal court would have supplemental jurisdiction over the state law constitutional claims.

I'm not as up to speed on preemption as I used to be, but it seems the governor has a pretty good case of at least implied preemption. Further, the White House has publicly backed his interpretation of the law. I'd be interested to see what position the Solicitor General's office takes.
5.23.2009 12:08am"


John McCall (mail):
Sanford really doesn't have a leg to stand on. The original federal bill said that state legislatures could accept the money directly. Now, that's clearly unconstitutional, because a state must follow its own processes to decide whether to accept the money; generally that involves writing a bill to accept it, which then gets passed in the normal way — which is exactly what happened her. The legislature passed a bill, the governor vetoed that bill, and then the legislature overrode his veto. The governor doesn't have an unconditional veto for the simple fact that the state constitution doesn't give him one, and rightfully so. Whether the governor likes it or not, the state of South Carolina has accepted the federal stimulus money, because it successfully passed a bill declaring acceptance before the deadline.
5.23.2009 3:10pm"

The question as I see it is what is the language of the current bill? If Acheronx
is correct, then Sanford is indeed acting properly and if he did not do so he would be violating his oath of office and his duty as governor. Another point for the federal courts is to review what Congress has passed, is it permissible within the scope of authority of the federal government granted to it by the US Constitution? So far much of what Obama has done is rather questionable to say the least. Can the legislature override the governor to take funds that remains to be seen if Congress has the right to give with the conditions imposed on the states by it?

Anon21: until there is some actual ruling that this Obama-Democrat monstrosity is in fact lawful; that Congress actually can lawfully do what it did, how is Sanford an idiot for trying to keep his state from being saddled down with an albatross for decades to come? With federal money comes the federal strings, so unless your position is that SC being a sovereign state can repudiate federal strings in the future, then that is a rather different and interesting theory but until such a theory is accepted this idiot stimulus bill does nothing for his state or any state other than increase government patronage. It's a good thing if you are a government worker, a union organizer or dependent of government largess, in other words, a parasite. Is it the governor's responsibility to act primarily on the behalf of parasites? Not good if you are a tax payer and not dependent on government for a living,in other words not a parasite. Paying down debt is always a good thing. Its called freeing up cash flow to save or spend on more worthwhile things, like tax cuts for the tax payers. Politicians are not businessman, they seldom understand the difference between an expense and an investment and most of this porkulus is nothing but wasted money, an expense to be endured for decades and very little of it is an investment that benefits the taxpayers.
5.23.2009 4:17pm
MarkField (mail):

I seem to remember that certain folks conditioned their loans on being granted "secured" status, making them senior to other debtors.

Why are those conditions less worthy than Obama's?


This is too cryptic. What about "secured" status would affect changes to the CA budget process?


What's at issue is that he'd want to. And you don't see any problem at all with the federal government taxing a state's citizens, and then giving some of that money to the state government, conditioned on things the federal government has no authority to demand?


Since it's "his" money, that seems to me a perfectly good explanation for why he'd "want to". If it were my money, I'd want it too; otherwise I'd be in the same position a few years down the line. It's the same reason the IMF demands changes in debtor nations before making them the loans to bail them out. And, sadly, that's what CA is these days -- a failed state.

I think this anwers your second question as well. No, I don't see any such problem. Mind you, CA has legitimate gripes against the feds -- we get back roughly .78 cents for every dollar we pay in federal taxes. It might very well be fair to surcharge the red welfare states which've been benefiting from our largesse over the years. But the fact is, any federal system will always have winners and losers, so that's just part of the deal.
5.23.2009 4:44pm
Perseus (mail):
It would be quite the irony if he were to throw in his lot with the very federal legislation he was complaining about.

Using the federal government against itself in order to defeat it strikes me as clever as much as ironic.
5.23.2009 4:47pm
Desiderius:
RLG,

Ostentatious pride ill-befits power in a democracy. Perhaps best to keep such sentiments to yourself if they are sincere.

As for Sanford, he has several legs to stand on as a matter of principle, if not law, even if that principle is not particularly applicable presently, given nominal interest rates. If this is truly the crisis all sides claim it to be, for various purposes, then this should also be a time for all men (inclusive sense) of principle to set aside petty rivalries.

In other words: enough with the ipse dixit partisan pissing contests. Let Sanford have his day in court and go with what the court says.
5.23.2009 4:56pm
Brett Bellmore:

Since it's "his" money, that seems to me a perfectly good explanation for why he'd "want to".


If Obama were trying to buy an altered California constitution with his own money, I'd have no objection. He's going to do it with Californians' money.
5.23.2009 5:02pm
cubanbob (mail):
Let Obama try this stunt of forcing California to change it's constitution. It won't work and will do more than anything to cause the Democrats to loose the House next year and probably the Senate 2012 along with the white house and a number of state houses and governorships.

Another point to consider is Obama is assuming that Congress will go along with his bailout of California. Not every states delegation even if Democrat will go for that one, it will be hard for most Congressman to explain to their constituents why they have to bail out Californian when the state could simply cut its payroll and pensions and solve it's own problems. Most states are nowhere as mismanaged as California and there will be little sympathy to bail them out of their own self created problems.
5.23.2009 5:33pm
MarkField (mail):

If Obama were trying to buy an altered California constitution with his own money, I'd have no objection. He's going to do it with Californians' money.


This is obviously wrong for at least two reasons:

1. Federal tax money comes from all 50 states. Trying to allocate any particular dollar to CA is pointless.

2. No matter where it comes from, it's federal money once it's collected.

But suppose you are right and that it is "our" money. In that case, CA would be getting back money with which it has been subsidizing other states AND getting a republican government in addition. Win/win.
5.23.2009 6:59pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
If it's federal tax money at stake, then Obama can damn well condition it any way he wants. That's exactly what any other investor would do. If one of the byproducts is that CA gets an actual republican form of government -- one run by, you know, majority rule -- then two birds, one stone.
Congress bailed out banks (in some cases by force), now the Federal Government runs the banks. Congress bailed out automakers, now the Federal Government runs the automakers. If Congress bails out the states, then... Well, it ain't going to be "an actual republican form of government -- one run by, you know, majority rule."
And you don't see any problem at all with the federal government taxing a state's citizens, and then giving some of that money to the state government, conditioned on things the federal government has no authority to demand?
See: 55 MPH speed limit, for just one example.
it will be hard for most Congressman to explain to their constituents why they have to bail out Californian when the state could simply cut its payroll and pensions and solve it's own problems.
Wrong twice. First, the "we know what you constituents need whether you want it or not" Congress will simply say, "California is to big to fail." Second, Obama's solution for California will never involve cutting public sector union payroll and pensions. In fact, given what he's proposing at the Federal level, he'll do the opposite.
5.23.2009 7:36pm
MarkField (mail):

If Congress bails out the states, then... Well, it ain't going to be "an actual republican form of government -- one run by, you know, majority rule."


If you're referring to the very unrepublican nature of the Senate, I'd agree. But if you just are overlooking the fact that the federal government is itself republican, then I don't.
5.23.2009 8:24pm
Desiderius:
Springfield, Illinois
21 February 1856
To Mr. George P. Floyd
Quincy, Illinois

Dear Sir,

I have just received yours of 16th, with check on Flagg &Savage for twenty-five dollars. You must think I am a high-priced man. You are too liberal with your money.

Fifteen Dollars is enough for the job. I send you a receipt for fifteen dollars and return to you a ten-dollar bill.

Yours truly,

A. Lincoln

See also.

This isn't the whipping boy you're looking for, at least on a libertarian blog.
5.23.2009 9:52pm
ReaderY:
What business does a non-state court have deciding which branch of a states' government -- its governor or its legislature -- has the power to determine how state money is spent or to ratify a contract or treaty with another sovereign?

It's difficult to imagine a matter more peculiarly state in character. Abstention is clearly in order.

I think the legislature has the better argument under state law -- it, not the governor, is responsible for appropriating state money.
5.23.2009 10:37pm
ReaderY:

If the federal statute endows the governor with the sole discretion to choose to accept funds, I don't see how a state legislature can overrule the federal law with a general appropriations statute. The federal statute would clearly preempt any such law.


In order system of limited and federal government, states are independent sovereigns, not branches of the federal government. Under the 10th Amendment, the federal government has no authority to regulate the division of powers of state governments or the allocation of state duties among state officials. The Supreme Court has held the federal governmet has no power to commandeer a state sheriff's department for its own purposes and cannot tell it what to do: if this is so surely it can't do so for its governor or legislature.

If a state accepts federal money it agrees incurs certain obligation. But the question of which state officers have power to bind the state to accept money and incur obligations on the state's behalf is solely a matter of state concern. The federal government can't dictate the division of responsibilities among a state's officers. That's what sovereignty means.
5.23.2009 10:44pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
If a state accepts federal money it agrees incurs certain obligation. But the question of which state officers have power to bind the state to accept money and incur obligations on the state's behalf is solely a matter of state concern. The federal government can't dictate the division of responsibilities among a state's officers. That's what sovereignty means.


This is quite true, but I think it's not really relevant to the situation in SC since, AFAIK, there is no provision of the SC constitution that specifies that only the governor may apply for or accept federal money.
5.24.2009 1:07am
Cornellian (mail):
If a state accepts federal money it agrees incurs certain obligation. But the question of which state officers have power to bind the state to accept money and incur obligations on the state's behalf is solely a matter of state concern. The federal government can't dictate the division of responsibilities among a state's officers. That's what sovereignty means.


This is quite true, but I think it's not really relevant to the situation in SC since, AFAIK, there is no provision of the SC constitution that specifies that only the governor may apply for or accept federal money.


I suppose Sanford would have to argue that accepting the federal money is an inherently executive function. That would presumably preclude a state law saying that the state legislature could accept the money on behalf of the state, but I don't see how that gets around a state law that requires the governor to accept the money.
5.24.2009 1:13am
David Schwartz (mail):
If a state accepts federal money it agrees incurs certain obligation. But the question of which state officers have power to bind the state to accept money and incur obligations on the state's behalf is solely a matter of state concern. The federal government can't dictate the division of responsibilities among a state's officers. That's what sovereignty means.
So the Federal government cannot condition a grant of Federal money to a State on the State's governor approving it? I agree, the Federal government can't authorize the governor to bind the State to conditions of the grant absent State law allowing that.

But surely the Federal government can grant the Governor the additional Federal power of accepting this grant. In principle, the Federal government could say that South Carolina only gets the money if Eugene Volokh personally picks it up from the New York State Federal Reserve, couldn't they?
5.24.2009 8:03am
rosetta's stones:
...so Volokh moonlights as Sanford's bagman, eh? I knew it!
5.24.2009 9:29am
Cornellian (mail):
But surely the Federal government can grant the Governor the additional Federal power of accepting this grant. In principle, the Federal government could say that South Carolina only gets the money if Eugene Volokh personally picks it up from the New York State Federal Reserve, couldn't they?

They could pass that "Volokh Bagman Act" but it's doubtful that they could make the strings attached to that money binding on the state of South Carolina if South Carolina state law prohibited him from receiving that money. In other words, the Feds can grant the power to receive the money to anyone they like but I don't think they can impose obligations on South Carolina as a result of that acceptance unless state law authorized that person to accept on behalf of South Carolina, and not just on behalf of himself.
5.24.2009 10:00am
Public_Defender (mail):
I think the governor's position is unwise and motivate by his presidential ambitions, but after glancing over the governor's complaint, I can't tell whether his claim is strong or weak. My guess is more of the commenters here couldn't either. I just don't know to what extent a legislature can control executive actions with a veto override. For example, I doubt the legislature could force the governor to nominate a specific person for a specific post via a veto override.

A couple things did stick out. He's represented by private counsel, not the attorney general. In many places, the governor can't file suit without the AG's representation. Did the AG agree to let someone represent the governor?

AG representation is important because the AG is supposed to take a coherent approach to litigation. For example, the governor makes an argument about the supremecy of federal statutes over state constitutions that state's-rights supporters might later regret if they win. Another example is absention. The AG might want the federal courts to abstain from this case in order to give the state courts a chance to rule. Once again, state's rights supporters might regret a win by the governor.
5.24.2009 1:33pm
Desiderius:
Public_Defender

"I think the governor's position is unwise"

So are you content to merely defend that portion of the public which currently has the power to vote themselves the wealth of that portion who are as yet too young too vote?

I don't think wisdom is exactly the category those advocating such a policy should be most anxious to bring to mind.
5.24.2009 1:48pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
States have the power to tax and to borrow. Why should the federal government tax and borrow, and then hand the money over to the states? It all comes from the same revenue sources. Somebody has to be paying for the beer. Why is borrowing or taxing at the federal level any better than at the state level? Of course we know what's going on. The federal government can print money, and the states cannot. So this is all about printing money and handing it out to the states. Does anyone really think that printing money or as the economists say "monetizing the debt" is without consequences-- negative consequences? If you do then, explain why it doesn't work for Zimbabwe? But isn't it true that Zimbabwe lacks an industrial capacity to meet the needs for its citizens to consume, and that's why it's foolish for them to print money. Yes that's true. Get it now?
5.24.2009 3:34pm
Bama 1L:
Shouldn't the state legislature solve this type of problem by removing the governor from office through impeachment?
5.24.2009 5:17pm
one of many:
Bama,

the SC legislature can only impeach in cases of serious crimes or serious misconduct. The governor can remove in cases of "willful neglect of duty" but it is unlikely he would remove himself.
5.24.2009 5:42pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Public_Defender

"I think the governor's position is unwise"

So are you content to merely defend that portion of the public which currently has the power to vote themselves the wealth of that portion who are as yet too young too vote?

Yes, I'm "content" to defender the powerful. You nailed me. That's exactly why I became a public defender.
5.24.2009 7:11pm
Cornellian (mail):
I expect Sanford's case to get tossed out of federal court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. His jurisdictional statement cites only Article VI (the Supremacy Clause) and the federal statute that says a governor can accept the money. That statute doesn't create a claim against the state legislature. At most it's a defense against a state law that purports to compel the governor to take the money. You need a federal claim to get into federal court on federal question jurisdiction (obviously he can't claim diversity) and a federal defense doesn't cut it. Nor is he seeking a declaratory judgment. Ergo, I expect dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
5.24.2009 8:34pm
Desiderius:
public_defender,

"Yes, I'm "content" to defender the powerful. You nailed me. That's exactly why I became a public defender."

No nailing intended. Perhaps you could further elucidate why you consider Sanford's action unwise. I try to avoid conflating wisdom, or lack thereof, with differences of opinion on economic policy questions, especially when the policy I'm advocating is the more vulnerable on that count, but maybe I'm missing something here.
5.24.2009 8:56pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
If you're referring to the very unrepublican nature of the Senate, I'd agree. But if you just are overlooking the fact that the federal government is itself republican, then I don't.
I was referring to the principle that if Congress, no matter how "republican," is making major decisions the people of California ought to be making, it won't be majority rule of the people of California.
The federal government can't dictate the division of responsibilities among a state's officers. That's what sovereignty means.
That's what sovereignty used to mean, before Congress had its fingers in so many pies it could remake state policy by threatening to withhold funding.
5.24.2009 9:11pm
MarkField (mail):

I was referring to the principle that if Congress, no matter how "republican," is making major decisions the people of California ought to be making, it won't be majority rule of the people of California.


The only decision we're discussing which Congress would make is one involving the conditions under which federal money would be spent. For that purpose, it's a national majority which should govern.
5.24.2009 11:50pm
Public_Defender (mail):

The only decision we're discussing which Congress would make is one involving the conditions under which federal money would be spent. For that purpose, it's a national majority which should govern.

The corollary to "no taxation without representation" is "taxation with representation."
5.25.2009 5:28am
Ken Arromdee:
The corollary to "no taxation without representation" is "taxation with representation."

I think the spirit of the Ninth Amendment belies this claim. Enumerating a right doesn't mean anything that isn't in the list (even if it's a list of one) isn't a right.

(And don't tell me the Ninth Amendment only applies to the Constitution. That's why I said "the spirit of".)
5.25.2009 10:50am
ReaderY:

The only decision we're discussing which Congress would make is one involving the conditions under which federal money would be spent. For that purpose, it's a national majority which should govern


The federal government can set its own independent program with only federal money and only federal bureaucrats and officials calling all the shots. It can do this any time it wants.

But if it wants to set up a joint program with South Carolina (or any other state) in which the state commits some of its own money on the program and state officials are involved in implementing it, it needs to make a volunatry agreement with the state that the state can agree to or not agree to. In can't simply order states or state officials to do whatever it wants.

Of course states often don't really like the program and agree to participate in it only because they need the money, just as people may hold jobs only because they need the money. But it's still a voluntary choice, even in a recession. A state can still choose to walk away and leave the money (and its strings) on the table if wants and thinks it can afford to.
5.25.2009 9:14pm
Public_Defender (mail):

The corollary to "no taxation without representation" is "taxation with representation."

I think the spirit of the Ninth Amendment belies this claim. Enumerating a right doesn't mean anything that isn't in the list (even if it's a list of one) isn't a right.

(And don't tell me the Ninth Amendment only applies to the Constitution. That's why I said "the spirit of".)

Maye, but taxation with representation is pretty darned consistent with that pesky Sixteenth Amendment.
5.26.2009 9:55am

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