The city of North Charleston sent a letter of intent last month to sue several state agencies in federal court. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey says the state went against its agreement signed in 2002 that places rail on the southern end of the Port of Charleston. The state wants to place rail now on the northern end–a community Summey has worked at redeveloping.
Now, the state has filed a petition to question the constitutionality of North Charleston’s intent. Attorney General Alan Wilson–
We’re not seeking to undo the MOU, the Memorandum of Understanding. It will be in its entirety, fully maintained, this will not affect the integrity of that agreement betweent he city of North Charleston and the State Ports Authority. This is a constitutional issue. Can a sub-agency in executive branch of government without legislative authority bind the entire state? Our answer to that is it cannot.
The attorney general says the court’s decision in this case will help or harm future business for South Carolina.
This is going to affect how the state does business and how state agencies under state government do business in the future, forevermore. So, if the answer is going to be yes, a sub part of state government, an independent agency in state government can bind the whole state, we need to have an answer to that so that in the future we can conduct business accordingly.
Wilson says his office is involved because any time the state is going to be sued or engaged in litigation, the state needs to have its legal officer speak up. He says the petition really isn’t about the city of North Charleston.
It really doesn’t have anything to do with the city of North Charleston. They have every right, in our opinion, to seek an answer in the question being asked. The issue for us is two-fold: First, this case involves a state constitutional law, the operation of state government and any legal case deciding those types of issues we believe should be heard in front of a state court, our state’s highest court-the State Supreme Court.
Wilson says the petition has already been filed and he has no predictions on how long it will take to hear back from the court.
He says if the court decides that North Charleston is not violating the constitution in its federal lawsuit–then they will abide by the court’s ruling.