ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – A group that says they want to make the City of Isle of Palms independent from South Carolina is now suing the state, and asking the State Supreme Court to hear their case.
Palm Republic leaders say they’ve filed a complaint with the South Carolina Supreme Court against the Department of Transportation and the state government over the actions they say are unacceptable and unconstitutional.
“This particular statute is unconstitutional on its face, on multiple levels,” Blair Hahn, one of the founders of the Palm Republic, said.
That statute, known as S.40, is a bill leaders of the Palm Republic say removes the ability of the Isle of Palms to govern its own municipality through the “Home Rule.”
“Home Rule was passed back in 1973 after a 20-plus year battle for it,” former Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll said. “And that means every community has the right to control the parking and stuff on its streets.”
But they say their decision to sue the state government is about much more than parking.
“This is about the right of any municipality in South Carolina to control the rights-of-way on their streets within their municipality,” Hahn said. “Every community in the state has the right to do that with the exception of four communities.”
“To pick out four communities out of 271 in South Carolina,” Carroll said, “it’s got to be equal across the board.”
Palm Republic believes lawmakers ignored the constitutional rule of law and proposed S.40 last year to pander to voters to help certain lawmakers get re-elected. Now, they say they’re filing a lawsuit with the state’s highest court to hold the state accountable.
“What we’re looking to do is require South Carolina legislature and politicians to follow the Constitution and follow the rule of law,” Hahn said. “If they do that, we don’t have a quarrel.”
The group’s leaders say they’ve tried reaching out to the state legislature multiple times before filing the suit, but never got a response.
“We tried to keep this from going this far,” Carroll said, “but again, they didn’t want to hear us. So, this step needed to be taken, we’re glad it was taken.”
As part of the lawsuit, the Palm Republic is also seeking a temporary and permanent injunction that would prohibit the South Carolina Department of Transportation from governing agency over the Isle of Palms Connector.