South Carolina’s top prosecutor has joined in a petition that asks South Carolina’s highest court to determine if the governor has the ability to appoint a replacement lieutenant governor — two years earlier than legislators intended.
The State newspaper reports Attorney General Alan Wilson has filed documents with the South Carolina Supreme Court joining a previous request to clarify how the next lieutenant governor will come to office. At issue is a 2014 constitutional amendment approved by voters to have the lieutenant governor run jointly with the governor instead of being elected separately. The referendum clarified the law would not take effect until the 2018 election, but that date was not included in the amended state Constitution.
Current Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster is next in line to become governor once current Gov. Nikki Haley resigns to become the next United Nations ambassador, expected to happen later this spring. Previously, the constitution implied the Senate president pro tempore would automatically become the next lieutenant governor. However, current President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman has already said he will not give up his powerful post for the largely-ceremonial role.
Wilson added his backing to a petition filed by State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, which asked the Supreme Court to settle the question. But the attorney general made it clear his support for the petition did not indicate a position on what the court may rule.
Leatherman filed his own documents Tuesday arguing that the court should not consider the case at this point because the situation it lays out is “hypothetical.” House Speaker Jay Lucas has also asked the justices not to consider the issue until a vacancy opens and Leatherman refuses to fill it.