S.C. high court sets stimulus suit deadline

The S.C. Supreme Court will begin today gathering arguments in two lawsuits that ask the court to determine whether Gov. Mark Sanford must comply with a state budget that requires him to accept a disputed $350 million in federal stimulus money.

The state’s highest court set a noon deadline for a response from Sanford, S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster and State Education Superintendent Jim Rex, who were all named as defendants in the lawsuits.

Chapin High School student Casey Edwards and University of South Carolina law school student Justin Williams filed suit Friday arguing that Sanford must accept the $350 million in stimulus funds, most of which will help public schools and colleges balance their budgets.

The S.C. Association of School Administrators also filed suit Friday on behalf of school districts in line to receive about $200 million of the disputed stimulus funds.

The court's demand of a quick response suggests it will rule quickly on this matter. The state has until July 1 to apply to the U.S. Department of Education for the money.

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said the governor, who filed a federal lawsuit last week arguing that the General Assembly does not have the authority to force him to accept the money, will respond to the lawsuit today.

But Sanford will still ignore today's deadline set by lawmakers that requires the governor to accept the stimulus money five days after the state budget that included the money became law.

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