Last week, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Governor Mark Sanford to apply for some $700 million in federal stimulus money. Despite his objections, Sanford has complied with the court order, but his right-wing allies in the state are now absurdly claiming that this is somehow a violation of the principles of federalism:
Oran Smith, president of South Carolina-based Palmetto Family Council, says Thursday’s ruling violates the notion of federalism.
“And it’s particularly a problem in this case because it’s related to money,” he notes. “So the question is: Can the federal government just simply buy off a state? Or use the power of the purse to manipulate a state into doing what the federal government thinks it should?
“…[T]hat’s a very dangerous precedent,” adds Smith, “and I think it’s really the reason why we fought a certain war in 1776 or so to fight against this type of thing.”
Smith obviously has no idea what he is talking about. Last month, the South Carolina legislature passed a budget that required Sanford to apply for the stimulus funds but Sanford didn’t want to and so he sued rather than accept the law. And last week the state Supreme Court ruled against him:
The S.C. Supreme Court also took the rare step of issuing a writ of mandamus, which orders the governor to apply for the money.
Chief Justice Jean Toal and three of the four other justices — Donald Beatty, John Kittredge and John Waller — said a state law passed last month requires Sanford to apply for the money and doesn’t conflict with the federal law providing the stimulus funds.
“Under the constitution and laws of this State, the General Assembly is the sole entity with the power to appropriate funds, including federal funds,” the four justices wrote. “Therefore, the General Assembly has the authority to mandate that the Governor apply for federal funds which it has appropriated.”
The state legislature passed a law requiring Sanford to apply for the funding and the state Supreme Court upheld that law as complying with the state constitution.
So how exactly is that evidence that the federal government is coercing the state?
You’d think that Smith would at least try and understand what had actually happened before spouting off. Instead, he decided to just start threatening revolution against the federal government over something that was exclusively a state matter.