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Constitution of South Carolina


State capitol at Columbia
State capitol at Columbia

South Carolina has had seven state constitutions altogether, adopted successively in 1776, 1778, 1790, 1861, 1865, 1868, and 1895. The constitution of 1895 is still the state’s basic governing document, although it has been amended many times and underwent an exhaustive review in the 1960s. Constitutional amendments may be proposed by a two-thirds majority in each house of the state legislature or by constitutional conventions. To be adopted, amendments must be approved by a majority of those voting on the amendments in a general election and must then be approved by a majority vote in each house of the state legislature chosen at the same election.

Executive power


The governor, the state’s chief executive official, is elected for a four-year term and may succeed to office only once. The governor traditionally appointed only a few administrative officials and had less extensive executive powers than most other governors, but the Government Reorganization Act in 1993 increased the governor’s powers of appointment and dismissal of agency heads and increased the governor’s involvement in the appointment of commission members.

Legislative power


The governor may veto proposed legislation and can veto specific items—a line-item veto—of appropriation bills, but the legislature can override the governor’s veto by a vote of two-thirds of those present at the voting in each house.

Other elected officials are the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, adjutant general, treasurer, comptroller general, superintendent of education, and commissioner of agriculture. All are elected to four-year terms and may succeed themselves in office. South Carolina’s state legislature, called the General Assembly, consists of a 46-member Senate and a 124-member House of Representatives. Senators are elected for four years, and representatives for two years. Regular sessions of the legislature are held annually, beginning on the second Tuesday in January, and must adjourn by 5 pm on the first Thursday of June unless extended by agreement of two-thirds of its members.

The supreme court


The supreme court, the state’s highest court, has original as well as appellate jurisdiction. The court consists of five justices: a chief justice and four associate justices. All are elected for ten-year terms by the members of both houses of the general assembly meeting jointly. The next highest court is the court of appeals, created in 1979. It comprises a chief judge and five associate judges and normally sits in panels of three. Its jurisdiction includes appeals from circuit and family courts, with specific exceptions that go directly to the Supreme Court. Circuit courts are organized into 16 judicial districts and have original jurisdiction over most matters. Circuit court judges are also chosen by the state legislature, for six-year terms. Lower courts include probate courts, magistrate’s courts, recorder’s courts, and family courts, which combine domestic relations and juvenile courts.

Local Government


Traditionally, government in South Carolina’s 46 counties was administered by the county’s legislative delegation, made up of the state senator and house members from each county. In general, the counties elected executive officials, such as commissioners, but the local state legislative delegations exercised real control over county affairs by virtue of their control over county finances. However, under a home rule bill that took effect in 1976, county government was systemized, and the powers of the county officials were strengthened. In addition to county governments, there are a number of multi-county planning commissions.

Most of the state’s 270 municipalities have the mayor-council form of municipal government. Most of the larger cities have city managers. Besides county and municipal governments, South Carolina has more than 600 special purpose districts that provide particular services at local levels. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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