The Supreme Court's ruling came a day after arguments in two lawsuits filed by students and school administrators. Sanford had tried to get those cases merged in federal court with his lawsuit against the state, which he filed moments after legislators overrode his budget veto. But he lost that battle Monday when a federal judge refused to take those cases.
Sanford had refused to request the $700 million _ the portion of the $2.8 billion bound for the state that he says he controls _ unless legislators agreed to offset state debt by an equal amount. The White House twice rejected that idea, noting the money must be used to help education and avoid job losses.
South Carolina, which had the nation's third-highest jobless rate in April _ hitting a state record high of 11.5 percent _ cut more than $1 billion from its $7 billion spending plan for 2008-09 as tax revenues slumped in the recession.
Sanford's refusal has raised the ire of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, who accused the governor of being a foe of public education. Amid budget cuts and uncertainty over the federal money, districts had told hundreds of teachers they don't have a job in the upcoming school year.
State education officials estimated schools would eliminate 2,600 education jobs, including 1,500 teachers, without the stimulus money.
Clyburn, D-S.C., inserted an amendment in the federal law with Sanford's anti-bailout stance in mind, saying legislators could go around a governor's refusal. While the legality of that was questioned, U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson on Monday cited it in saying it was clear Congress intended to allow legislators to get around governors who didn't want the money.
Thank God that Congressman Clyburn had the foresight to put that amendment in the bill.