South Carolina Senate Debating Bill That Would Tweak Judicial Nomination Process

South Carolina

The South Carolina Senate is debating a bill that would make minor changes to how judges are appointed in the Palmetto State.

Currently, the state’s General Assembly, via its Judicial Merit Selection Commission, which consists of a “group of legislators and lawyers who do extensive investigations into judicial candidates, a process that entails examining everything from their finances to their temperament to their knowledge of the law,” appoints judges from the state Supreme Court, all the way down to circuit courts.

South Carolina is one of only two states in which the General Assembly chooses judges instead of appointments by the governor that are subject to legislative approval or direct votes from the state’s residents.

While S. 1046 will change some processes by which the Judicial Merit Selection Commission, it will not make wholesale changes to the overall process. Such changes would require a two-thirds vote in the State Senate and a constitutional amendment.

Instead, the bill would make some minor but important changes.

Right now, the Judicial Merit Selection Commission narrows candidates down to the three it feels are most qualified and sends them to the General Assembly, which votes on which one to appoint.

If the new bill passes, that cap will be removed, and the Judicial Merit Selection Commission will submit all qualified candidates to the General Assembly for consideration.

The bill would also make a slight change to the Judicial Merit Selection Commission itself, allowing appointments to the commission by the governor, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, along with prosecutors and defense attorneys employed by the state.

The former Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court weighed in on the changes.

“The system is good. but changing pieces of it — not throwing out the baby with the bathwater — is the way to go,” former Chief Justice Jean Toal reportedly said. “”The best regulation is self-regulation.”

– – –

Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter/X.





Related posts