Moseley v. Welch, No. 15858.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtOXNER
Citation39 S.E.2d 133
PartiesMOSELEY et al. v. WELCH et al.
Docket NumberNo. 15858.
Decision Date19 July 1946

39 S.E.2d 133

MOSELEY et al.
v.
WELCH et al.

No. 15858.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

July 19, 1946.


[39 S.E.2d 134]

[COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED]

[39 S.E.2d 135]

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Williamsburg County; W. H. Grimball, Judge.

Action by A. R. Moseley and another against W. H. Welch and others, as members of the County Board of Education for Williamsburg County, and others, to enjoin the defendants from proceeding under a statute which the plaintiffs sought to have declared unconstitutional. From the judgment, the defendants appeal.

Judgment modified.

F. R. Hemingway, of Kingstree, and John I. Cosgrove and Huger Sinkler, all of Charleston, for appellants.

Henry E. Davis, of Florence, for respondents.

OXNER, Justice.

Respondents in this action seek to have declared invalid, as being in conflict with various provisions of the State and Federal Constitutions, an act of the General Assembly relating to the operation of the public schools of Williamsburg County which was approved on March 20, 1944, Act No. 502, Acts of 1944, 43 St. at L., page 1368 et seq., and to enjoin appellants from proceeding thereunder. By consent,

[39 S.E.2d 136]

the cause was referred to A. F. Woods, Esq., as special referee, who, after taking certain testimony, filed a report in which he found that certain provisions of the Act were unconstitutional, but concluded that after these were eliminated, "that which remains is a complete act in itself, capable of being executed independently of the unconstitutional parts without doing undue violence to the legislative intent." Both parties filed exceptions to this report which were heard by judge Grimball, Resident Judge of the Ninth Circuit, who thereafter filed a decree in which he held that the entire Act was unconstitutional and issued the permanent injunction sought by respondents. The case is now before us on exceptions by appellants to the decree of Judge Grimball.

The evident purpose of the Act mentioned was to adopt in Williamsburg County what is frequently referred to as the "County Unit Plan" of education. Under the terms of the Act, the existing County Board of Education is abolished and its duties developed upon a new County Board of Education which the Act creates, consisting of seven members to be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the legislative delegation from that county (Sections 1 and 12). A clerk for the Board is authorized (Section 4). The trustees of the several school districts in the County are required each year to submit to the Board a budget for the operation of the schools within their respective districts for the ensuing fiscal year and to meet with the Board for the purpose of adjusting any differences between the budget proposed and that deemed proper by the Board, but the right of final determination as to the amount of the budget for each school district is vested in the Board (Section 7). The County Auditor is directed to levy annually a sufficient county-wide tax, not exceeding fifteen mills, to meet the cost of the current operation of the schools (Section 8). The Board is empowered to fix a salary schedule for all teachers in the several high school districts of the County, which shall be in conformity with their respective qualifications and certifications by the State Board of Education (Section 14). All borrowing of funds for school purposes of the County, whether in anticipation of the collection of taxes, State aid or otherwise, shall be done by the Board on notes of the County (Section 13). The construction of any new buildings, as well as any repairs or additions to those existing, shall be approved by the Board (Section 3). The Board is empowered each year to include in the school budget an amount not exceeding $100,000 for constructing, enlarging, repairing or equipping school buildings and is authorized, with the consent of the Senator and at least two members of the House from Williamsburg County, "to borrow any amount over and above the aforesaid One Hundred Thousand ($100,000.00) Dollars, needed" for such purposes, said loans to run for a period not exceeding ten years and to be secured by the full faith, credit and taxing power of the County (Section 5). All outstanding bonded indebtedness of the several school districts is transferred to and assumed by the County Board of Education created under the terms of the Act, and the full faith and credit of the Board is pledged to the payment of said bonded indebtedness; the County Treasurer is directed "to place all monies now in the bond sinking funds of the several school districts into a County School Bond Sinking Fund, to which fund all receipts from levies for bond purposes shall be placed and from which fund all payments of interest and principal for bond purposes shall be made" (Section 5). The Act directs that there shall be an annual county-wide tax levy, not exceeding five mills, sufficient to pay the interest and principal on all outstanding bonds and "the principal sums and interest on such indebtedness as may thereafter be incurred" under the terms of the Act; it is further provided that said tax "shall be in lieu of all taxes for bond payments as are now levied on the several school districts of Williamsburg County" (Section 6), The County Treasurer is directed "to make an offset between all current operation deficits and balances, " existing after July l, 1944, of the several school districts of the County and to place the difference into one fund to be known as the County Board Fund, which is to be subject to the order of the County Board of Education. The Act

[39 S.E.2d 137]

further provides that "all school funds collected in the future from special operating levies or from other sources shall be credited to the County Board Fund" (Section 2). All school district levies and all county levies for school bonds and ordinary school purposes other than those provided for in the Act are repealed (Section 10).

A certain portion of Williamsburg County already consolidated with Lake City School District of Florence County is exempted from the provisions of the Act (Section 15). It is further provided that if any sentence or section of the Act is declared unconstitutional, it shall not be construed to invalidate the remainder (Section 16). The Act provides for the organization of the Board created and for the per diem pay and travel allowance of its members (Section 9).

The foregoing synopsis of the terms of the Act includes all of its essential features. Some of these will be hereinafter referred to in more detail.

We approach the consideration of the various constitutional grounds upon which this legislation is challenged with the following well settled principles in mind: The supreme legislative power of the State is vested in the General As-, sembly; the provisions of our State Constitution are not a grant but a limitation of legislative power, so that the General Assembly may enact any law not expressly, or by clear implication, prohibited by the State or Federal Constitution; a statute will, if possible, be construed so as to render it valid; every presumption will be made in favor of the constitutionality of a legislative enactment; and a statute will be declared unconstitutional only when its invalidity appears so clearly as to leave no room for reasonable doubt that it violates some provision of the Constitution. Santee Mills et al. v. Query et al., 122 S.C. 158, 115 S.E. 202; Clarke v. South Carolina Public Service Authority et al., 177 S.C. 427, 181 S.E. 481; Ellerbe v. David, County Treasurer, et al., 193 S.C. 332, 8 S.E.2d 518; Pickelsimer v. Pratt et al., 198 S.C. 225, 17 S.E.2d 524.

It is contended that the Act in question violates that portion of Section 34, Article 3, of the Constitution which forbids the enactment of a local or special law (1) to incorporate a school district or (2) in any case where a general law can be made applicable. It is evident that the Act makes no attempt to incorporate a school district. We, therefore, proceed to determine whether it is a special law where a general law can be made applicable. This same section of the Constitution provides that "nothing contained in this Section shall prohibit the General Assembly from enacting special provisions in general laws."

The general school law of the State is contained in Chapter 122, Sections 5272 through 5512, of the 1942 Code, as amended. Many of these sections contain special provisions relating to various counties. This chapter is immediately followed by Chapter 122-A, Sections 5513 through 5675, which contains special legislation relating mainly to the fiscal school affairs of each of the forty-six counties of the State. As stated by the Special Referee, "this is at least indicative of a consistent legislative opinion that conditions in the various counties are such as to preclude uniformity of treatment in relation to the administration of school affairs." This conclusion of the General Assembly is entitled to much respect and in doubtful cases should be followed. Spartanburg County v. Miller, County Treasurer, et al., 135 S.C. 348. 132 S.E. 673; Evans et al. v. Beattie, Comptroller General, et al., 137 S.C. 496, 135 S.E. 538; Craig v. Pickens County, 189 S.C. 164, 200 S.E. 825.

It will be observed that the Act in question relates only to the fiscal operation of the schools of Williamsburg County. Apart from State aid, the burden of supporting the schools is assumed by the County and the various school districts are relieved from contributing to the cost of the operation of the schools. Whether this should be done in a particular county is peculiarly a local problem dependent upon local conditions. The special legislation relating to numerous counties shows there is a great disparity in the extent of the aid furnished by the counties in the operation of the schools, which probably is largely due to

[39 S.E.2d 138]

the wide dissimilarity in the financial...

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41 practice notes
  • Retail Servs. & Sys., Inc. v. S.C. Dep't of Revenue, Appellate Case No. 2014-002728
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 29, 2017
    ...expressly, or by clear implication, prohibited by the State or Federal Constitution[ ].’ " (quoting Moseley v. Welch , 209 S.C. 19, 27, 39 S.E.2d 133, 137 (1946) )); accord Grand Union Co. , 204 A.2d at 860 ("Our function is to determine whether the Legislature has gone beyond the outer lim......
  • Abbeville Cnty. Sch. Dist. v. State, No. 27466.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 12, 2014
    ...S.C. 346, 349, 364 S.E.2d 470, 472 (1988) (internal marks and citation omitted) (quoting Moseley v. Welch, 209 S.C. 19, 33–34, 39 S.E.2d 133, 140 (1946) ).In Abbeville I, also assigned to Judge Cooper, the trial judge in his order of September 20, 1996, observed:Of those states whose educat......
  • Gwynette v. Myers, No. 17687
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 26, 1960
    ...so clearly as to leave no room for reasonable doubt that it violates some provision of the Constitution.' Moseley v. Welch, 209 S.C. 19, 39 S.E.2d 133, The preamble to the Act reads: 'Whereas, approximately ninety per cent of the fluid milk sold in the United States is either under state or......
  • Hay v. Leonard, No. 16047.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 26, 1948
    ...section of the Constitution. State v. Touchberry, supra; Anderson v. Page, 208 S.C. 146, 37 S.E.2d 289; Moseley v. Welch, 209 S.C. 19, 39 S.E.2d 133; Murph v. Landrum, 76 S.C. 21, 28, 56 S.E. 850; Nettles v. Cantwell, 112 S.C. 24, 99 S.E. 765. The Act applies uniformly to all persons and pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
41 cases
  • Retail Servs. & Sys., Inc. v. S.C. Dep't of Revenue, Appellate Case No. 2014-002728
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 29, 2017
    ...expressly, or by clear implication, prohibited by the State or Federal Constitution[ ].’ " (quoting Moseley v. Welch , 209 S.C. 19, 27, 39 S.E.2d 133, 137 (1946) )); accord Grand Union Co. , 204 A.2d at 860 ("Our function is to determine whether the Legislature has gone beyond the outer lim......
  • Abbeville Cnty. Sch. Dist. v. State, No. 27466.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 12, 2014
    ...S.C. 346, 349, 364 S.E.2d 470, 472 (1988) (internal marks and citation omitted) (quoting Moseley v. Welch, 209 S.C. 19, 33–34, 39 S.E.2d 133, 140 (1946) ).In Abbeville I, also assigned to Judge Cooper, the trial judge in his order of September 20, 1996, observed:Of those states whose educat......
  • Gwynette v. Myers, No. 17687
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 26, 1960
    ...so clearly as to leave no room for reasonable doubt that it violates some provision of the Constitution.' Moseley v. Welch, 209 S.C. 19, 39 S.E.2d 133, The preamble to the Act reads: 'Whereas, approximately ninety per cent of the fluid milk sold in the United States is either under state or......
  • Hay v. Leonard, No. 16047.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 26, 1948
    ...section of the Constitution. State v. Touchberry, supra; Anderson v. Page, 208 S.C. 146, 37 S.E.2d 289; Moseley v. Welch, 209 S.C. 19, 39 S.E.2d 133; Murph v. Landrum, 76 S.C. 21, 28, 56 S.E. 850; Nettles v. Cantwell, 112 S.C. 24, 99 S.E. 765. The Act applies uniformly to all persons and pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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