Governor Nikki Haley's office has punted the issue of why the Confederate Battle Flag at the state capitol has not been lowered when all the others around it were.
Senate president Henry McMaster, who got his start as an aide to Strom Thurmond, has been studiously silent. So has Senate president pro tem Hugh Leatherman. So has House Speaker Jay Lucas, Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope, and Majority Leader Bruce Bannister.
Word is, only the legislature can order the flag lowered, having legislated it into its upright, locked position fifteen years ago. And the word is right. They did:
Title 1 - Administration of the Government
Removal and Placement of Confederate Flag
SECTION 1-10-10. Flags authorized to be flown atop State House dome, in chambers of Senate and House of Representatives and on grounds of Capitol Complex; members' offices as "chambers"; private individual wearing, carrying or displaying flag on capitol grounds.
(A) As of 12:00 noon on the effective date of this act, and permanently thereafter, the only flags authorized to be flown atop the dome of the State House, in the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives, and on the grounds of the Capitol Complex shall be as authorized in this section.
The flags authorized to be flown atop the dome of the State House and in the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives are the United States Flag and the South Carolina State Flag. As of 12:00 noon on the effective date of this act, the flag authorized to be flown at a designated location on the grounds of the Capitol Complex is the South Carolina Infantry Battle Flag of the Confederate States of America [the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (General Robert E. Lee's Army) the South Carolina, Georgia, Florida Department version]. This flag must be flown on a flagpole located at a point on the south side of the Confederate Soldier Monument, centered on the monument, ten feet from the base of the monument at a height of thirty feet. The flagpole on which the flag is flown and the area adjacent to the monument and flagpole must be illuminated at night and an appropriate decorative iron fence must be erected around the flagpole.
The South Carolina Infantry Battle Flag of the Confederate States of America is square measuring fifty-two inches on each side, inclusive of the white border, with a St. Andrews Cross of blue, edged with white, with thirteen equal five-pointed stars, upon a red field, with the whole banner bordered in white. The blue arms of the cross are 7.5 inches wide and the white border around the flag proper is 1.5 inches wide. The stars are five-pointed, inscribed within a circle six inches in diameter, and are uniform in size.
From any funds appropriated to the Budget and Control Board, the Division of General Services of the Budget and Control Board, or its successor in interest, shall ensure that the flags authorized above shall be placed at all times as directed in this section and shall replace the flags at appropriate intervals as may be necessary due to wear.
(B) The provisions of this section may only be amended or repealed upon passage of an act which has received a two-thirds vote on the third reading of the bill in each branch of the General Assembly.
(C) The term "chambers" of the House or Senate for the purposes of this section does not include individual members' offices. The provisions of this section do not prohibit a private individual on the capitol complex grounds from wearing as a part of his clothing or carrying or displaying any type of flag including a Confederate Flag.
HISTORY: 2000 Act No. 292, Section 1.
SECTION 1-10-20. Confederate Flags from above rostrums of Senate and House of Representatives chambers to be placed and displayed in State Museum.
The actual Confederate Flags (Naval Jack) removed from above the rostrum in the chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate must be placed and permanently displayed in a suitable location in the State Museum.
HISTORY: 2000 Act No. 292, Section 1.
SECTION 1-10-30. Confederate Flag from dome to be placed and displayed in State Museum.
The actual Confederate Flag (Naval Jack) which is flying on the effective date of this act and which is removed from the dome of the State House must be placed and permanently displayed in a suitable location in the State Museum.
HISTORY: 2000 Act No. 292, Section 6.
What about a special session, then? In South Carolina, only the governor can call one. The legislature adjourned June 4, 2015, calling itself back into session June 16-18 for housecleaning work and dealing with gubernatorial vetoes, and can do so again- but only on a limited list of topics. Under the state constitution, they have the authority to do this.
Governor Haley also has constitutional authority to call a special session under "extraordinary circumstances" as defined in her discretion. She knows this because she asked the state attorney general for an opinion on when she can call special sessions, in 2011.
Governor Haley has said, in the past, she thinks the flag issue is divisive and so ought to be let alone. After all, she said, not a single corporate CEO she has talked to ever raised it with her, and, in her view of South Carolina, what's good for General Motors is good for the Palmetto State.
Maybe a few CEO phone calls are called for.