SC Supreme Court says state law that protects monuments can stand without supermajority vote requirement

State News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — The Supreme Court of South Carolina has issued a ruling in a case surrounding the Heritage Act.

The state law was passed in 2000. Officials said the General Assembly originally passed the law to remove the Confederate flag from the top of the dome at the State House. They also wanted to address other issues surrounding monuments and memorials.

The law included a provision that said protected monuments and memorials, including Confederate monuments, can only be changed or removed with a two-thirds supermajority vote by the General Assembly.

After listening to arguments in May, justices issued a ruling Wednesday afternoon.

They ruled the supermajority vote requirement for the General Assembly to make changes to protected monuments or memorials was unconstitutional. They wrote, “The 113th General Assembly like all legislatures had no authority to restrict the power of future legislatures to act by majority vote.” From now on, lawmakers would need a simple majority vote to make changes.

Through a severability clause included in the Heritage Act, the rest of the law would stand if a portion was struck down or repealed.

State Supreme Court justices upheld the rest of the the law giving the General Assembly the power to rename or remove monuments. Petitioners argued that power should belong to local officials.

South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas said in a statement:

“Today’s opinion by the Supreme Court on the Heritage Act reaffirms the General Assembly’s ability to make decisions concerning the names of this state’s monuments and memorials. While I am disappointed that the Court chose to overturn the crucial two-thirds requirement contained in the original law, the opinion makes clear that the General Assembly is the sole authority. I reiterate what I have consistently said since 2015: the South Carolina House of Representatives will not engage in or debate the specifics of public monuments, memorials, state buildings, road names or any other historical markers during my time as Speaker.”

SC House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington)

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement:

“I want to thank the Supreme Court for a very scholarly, well-considered, and well-documented opinion. Their unanimous ruling confirms our earlier opinion on the Heritage Act. We agree with the Court that the compromise concerning the Flag and which led to passage of the Heritage Act is one of the great achievements in South Carolina history.”

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson

You can read the full ruling by clicking or tapping here.

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