What’s Happening with the South Carolina Supreme Court?

Commentary by FCA Executive Director Andrew Wynne.

Recently, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state’s “Heartbeat Bill” is unconstitutional. All five Justices wrote an opinion and even among the three who would overturn the law, there was much disagreement. The author of the lead opinion, Justice Kaye Hearn, is set to retire. The State Legislature was scheduled to elect her successor February 1.

The process to select a Supreme Court Justice in South Carolina is rather unique. A Judicial Merit Selection Commission, mostly made up of lawyer-legislators, interviews nominees and deems them qualified or unqualified. The process is a quasi-open forum, but many of the Commission members appear before the nominees as lawyers, so there’s some concern about transparency and bias.

Late last week, the State Senate proposed pushing the election back to February 8, prompting some to complain about the process.

Reforming the process of judicial selection in South Carolina is an important and laudable goal. Hopefully, postponing the election for  South Carolina’s next Supreme Court Justice can focus legislators’ attention on this important reform.

Follow Fair Courts America on Twitter and Facebook for more updates like this.