BY ROBERT MEYEROWITZ
It could be the end of the mess we’ve been telling you about
The South Carolina Supreme Court has canceled arguments that had been scheduled for this afternoon in the matter of succession to the lieutenant governor’s post and the-amendment-that-wasn’t, saying it’s ready to rule in the matter.
The ruling could mark the beginning of the end of a fiasco for the state senate.
It has several beginnings, stretching back to when voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2012, so it’s hard to say how it began — but we do know how it came to light.
In late November, Hannah Hill wrote a post for The Nerve about what would happen in the event Governor Nikki Haley was unable to complete her term as governor. We knew that Henry McMaster, the lieutenant governor, would ascend, but then who would become lieutenant governor?
Hill correctly read the state constitution, which said McMaster would appoint a lieutenant governor.
Then two things happened. Two days later, president-elect Donald Trump tapped Haley to be his ambassador to the United Nations. And it occurred to us that, according to a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2012, the governor wasn’t supposed to be able to appoint a lieutenant governor until 2018.
Phillip Cease explained in an update to Hill’s post: “When the legislature actually amended the constitution… it omitted the dates – making the changes effective immediately. Lawmakers may have intended the change to take effect in 2018, but what found its way into the constitution – by negligence or design – is an effective date of 2014.”
Under the old procedures, which should have still been in effect, the senate president pro tempore would have automatically ascended to the lieutenant governorship. When the senate met to organize for the upcoming session, in December, however, Hugh Leatherman was reelected to the presidency while saying he would not ascend.
Clearly this was a matter for the Supreme Court, as we explained.
And so we anticipate a ruling shortly, as the clock ticks on Haley’s likely confirmation — she’s testifying on Capitol Hill this morning — and McMasters’s ascension. We’ll keep you updated.