Federal judge to decide where S.C. stimulus case belongs

John O'Brien May 29, 2009, 2:58pm


COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has asked a federal judge to determine if a lawsuit over his refusal to accept federal stimulus funds should be heard in state or federal court.

A hearing before the state Supreme Court is being delayed while U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson sorts the matter out. He plans to hold a hearing Monday.

Two students filed suit against Sanford, who will not accept nearly $700 million in federal stimulus funds unless it can be used to fix the state's debt. If he accepts it, though, he is required to spend it on education programs.

If he uses the money on education programs, Sanford wants lawmakers to pledge an equal amount of the budget to help plug the state's debt.

Lawmakers overrode Sanford's veto of the proposed budget this month.

State Attorney General Henry McMaster has already delivered an opinion on the matter, in which he wrote that if the Legislature attempted to force Sanford to request the funds it would create a "constitutional standoff."

The state Supreme Court declined to review the issue until the Legislature acted.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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