Presentation on theme: "S.C. Constitutional Evolution Bob Botsch. Many governing documents over more than 300 years Charters, Colonial Constitutions, and 7 Constitutions All."— Presentation transcript:
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
Charters -- under Lord Proprietors Charters created basic outline of gov structure 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?
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
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
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
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
1861 Constitution little change in powers wording changed to fit CSA confederal form of government
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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