Governor of South Carolina

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Governor of South Carolina
Seal of the Governor of South Carolina.png
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (cropped).jpg
Henry McMaster

since January 24, 2017
Style His Excellency
Residence South Carolina Governor's Mansion
Term length Four years, renewable once consecutively; afterwards, the officeholder must sit out for one term before being eligible again
Inaugural holder John Rutledge (as State, 1776)
William Sayle (as Colony, 1670)
Formation Constitution of South Carolina
Salary$106,078 (2013) [1]
Outer part of the governor's office in the South Carolina State House in Columbia SC Governor's office in Columbia IMG 4767.JPG
Outer part of the governor's office in the South Carolina State House in Columbia

The Governor of the State of South Carolina is the head of state for the state of South Carolina. Under the South Carolina Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the South Carolina executive branch. The governor is the ex officio commander-in-chief of the National Guard when not called into federal use. The governor's responsibilities include making yearly "State of the State" addresses to the South Carolina General Assembly, submitting an executive budget and ensuring that state laws are enforced.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

South Carolina State of the United States of America

South Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River.

Commander-in-chief supreme commanding authority of a military

A commander-in-chief, sometimes also called supreme commander, is the person that exercises supreme command and control over an armed forces or a military branch. As a technical term, it refers to military competencies that reside in a country's executive leadership – a head of state or a head of government.


The 117th and current Governor of South Carolina is Henry McMaster, who is serving the remainder of Nikki Haley's second term after she resigned as governor on January 24, 2017 to assume office as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. [2]

Henry McMaster American politician

Henry Dargan McMaster is an American politician, attorney and member of the Republican Party, who is the 117th Governor of South Carolina, in office since January 24, 2017.

Nikki Haley U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Nimrata"Nikki"Haley is an American politician who served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2018. A member of the Republican Party, she previously served as the 116th Governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017 and is a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Haley was the first female governor of South Carolina, and the second Indian-American to serve as a governor in the United States.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations"; it is also known as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. There is also a Deputy Ambassador who assumes the duties of the ambassador in his or her absence. Like all United States ambassadors, the ambassador to the UN and the deputy ambassador are nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. The Ambassador serves at the pleasure of the President.

Requirements to hold office

There are three legal requirements set forth in Section 2 of Article IV of the South Carolina Constitution. (1) Be at least 30 years of age. (2) Citizen of the United States and a resident of South Carolina for 5 years preceding the day of election. [3] [4] The final requirement, (3) "No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being," is of extremely doubtful validity in light of the 1961 Supreme Court decision Torcaso v. Watkins , which reaffirmed that religious tests for public offices violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This requirement, however, has still not been removed from the Constitution of South Carolina. [5]

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court reaffirmed that the United States Constitution prohibits States and the Federal Government from requiring any kind of religious test for public office, in the specific case, as a notary public.

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which grants citizenship to everyone born in the U.S. and subject to its jurisdiction and protects civil and political liberties

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. Arguably one of the most consequential amendments to this day, the amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by the states of the defeated Confederacy, which were forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. The amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage. The amendment limits the actions of all state and local officials, including those acting on behalf of such an official.

United States Constitution Supreme law of the United States of America

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the President ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.

Term(s) of office

Under Section 4 in Article IV of the South Carolina Constitution, the governor serves a four-year term in office beginning at noon on the first Wednesday following the second Tuesday in January following his election and ending at noon on the first Wednesday following the second Tuesday in January four years later. Section 3 of Article IV states that no person shall be elected governor for more than two successive terms. For clarification, a person can hold an unlimited amount of terms as governor as long as such person does not serve more than two consecutive terms. [6] Since Henry McMaster assumed the office of governor after Nikki Haley resigned, he is eligible to serve the remainder of Haley's term and two consecutive four-year terms of his own.

Powers, duties, and responsibilities

According to the South Carolina Constitution, the Governor:

South Carolina National Guard

The South Carolina National Guard consists of the South Carolina Army National Guard and the South Carolina Air National Guard. American law specifically charges the National Guard with dual federal and state missions. In fact, the National Guard is the only United States military force empowered to function in a state status. Those functions range from limited actions during non-emergency situations to full scale law enforcement when called upon with the suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act, normally reserved for extreme situations when local law enforcement officials can no longer maintain civil control. The National Guard may be called into federal service in response to a call by the President or Congress.

South Carolina State Guard

The South Carolina State Guard (SCSG) is the designated state defense force for the state of South Carolina.

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime. The sentence that someone be punished in such a manner is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes or capital offences, and they commonly include offences such as murder, mass murder, terrorism, treason, espionage, offenses against the State, such as attempting to overthrow government, piracy, drug trafficking, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, but may include a wide range of offences depending on a country. Etymologically, the term capital in this context alluded to execution by beheading.


If the incumbent governor is no longer able or permitted to fulfill the duties of the office of governor, the following line of succession will be followed:

#PositionOffice HolderParty
1 Lieutenant governor Pamela Evette Republican
2 Speaker of the State House of Representatives James H. Lucas Republican
3President of the South Carolina Senate Harvey S. Peeler Jr. Republican
4Secretary of State Mark Hammond Republican
5State Treasurer Curtis Loftis Republican
6Attorney General Alan Wilson Republican

During impeachment or when the governor is temporarily disabled or absent from office, the lieutenant governor will have the powers of the governor. If the governor-elect is unable to fulfill the duties of the office of the governor, the lieutenant governor will become governor when the incumbent governor's term expires. If there is an incumbent governor beginning a new term, but a lieutenant governor-elect, and if the incumbent governor is unable to fulfill the duties of the office of the governor, the incumbent lieutenant governor shall become governor until the inauguration date, and the lieutenant governor-elect shall become governor on that date. [6]

An acting governor is a constitutional position created in some U.S. states when the governor dies in office or resigns. In some states, the governor may also be declared to be incapacitated and unable to function for various reasons including, illness and absence from the state for more than a specified period.

Oath of office

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected, (or appointed), and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States. So help me God."

Official residence

Main Article: South Carolina Governor's Mansion

South Carolina Governor's Mansion, 800 Richland St., columbia (Richland County, South Carolina) South Carolina Governor's Mansion, 800 Richland St., columbia (Richland County, South Carolina).JPG
South Carolina Governor's Mansion, 800 Richland St., columbia (Richland County, South Carolina)

The Governor's Mansion, located at 800 Richland Street in Columbia, on Arsenal Hill, is the official residence of the Governor of South Carolina. It was built in 1855 and originally served as faculty quarters for The Arsenal Academy which together with the Citadel Academy in Charleston formed The South Carolina Military Academy (now The Citadel); The Arsenal was burned by Sherman's forces in February 1865 and never reopened; the faculty quarters building was the only structure to survive and became the official residence of the governor in 1868. [11] The South Carolina Constitution in Section 20 of Article IV requires that the governor is to reside where the General Assembly convenes.


The South Carolina Constitution of 1776 specified for the governor (known as the president) to be chosen by the General Assembly. In 1778, the constitution was amended to change the title for the chief of the executive branch from president to governor.

A new constitution was promulgated in 1865 following the capture of the state by the Union Army in the Civil War. It called for the direct election of the governor, but continued to limit the vote to white males. On October 18, 1865, James Lawrence Orr was the first Governor of South Carolina to be elected by popular vote.

Following the state's failure to adopt the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the US Congress eliminated all offices of state government. A temporary military government headed by Edward Canby was set up until new elections were held after the writing of the Constitution of 1868. All male citizens above the age of 21, regardless of race, were given the right to vote and the governor was allowed to be elected to two consecutive terms.

The election of Ben Tillman in 1890 to governor by the support of agrarian reformers forced a new constitutional convention to be held. The constitution of 1895 instituted a poll tax and also required voters to pass a literacy test. These provisions were used to effectively deny the vote to blacks. The convention also increased the governor's powers by granting a line-item veto on the budget. Initially, the United States Supreme Court upheld the validity of legislation requiring voters to pay a poll tax, [12] , and ruled that literacy tests were not necessarily unconstitutional. [13] In 1964, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution made it unlawful for a state to require payment of a poll tax in a federal election, and the Supreme Court, reversing the Breedlove decision, then held that requiring the payment of a poll tax in any election was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [14] Elimination of the literacy test required federal legislation, the validity of which was upheld by the Supreme Court. [15]

Originally, governors served two-year terms, with no restrictions on reelection. In 1926, the constitution was amended to lengthen the governor's term to four years, but prevented consecutive terms. Governor Richard Riley pushed for an amendment to allow for two consecutive terms and it was passed by the voters in 1980.


  1. Unlike most states, the power to grant reprieves and pardons resides in a seven-member board, not the Governor.

See also

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A general election will be held in the U.S. state of South Carolina on November 6, 2018. All of South Carolina's executive officers will be up for election as well as all of South Carolina's seven seats in the United States House of Representatives.


  1. "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  2. "Gov. Nikki Haley Resigns, McMaster Takes Over" . Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  3. "The South Carolina Governor". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  4. South Carolina Constitution Article IV
  5. Torcaso v. Watkins
  6. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  7. 1 2 3 "Article IV, South Carolina Constitution - Ballotpedia" . Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  8. "South Carolina Pardon Information - Pardon411". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  9. "Members - Board of Trustees - University of South Carolina". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  10. "Code of Laws - Title 23 - Chapter 11 - Sheriffs-election, Qualifications And Vacancies In Office". Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  11. "History of the South Carolina Military Academy", Col. J.P. Thomas
  12. Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277 (1937)
  13. Lassiter v. Northampton County Board of Elections, 360 U.S. 45 (1959).
  14. Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966)
  15. Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641 (1966).