South Carolina Leader: ‘Worldview’ Trumps Gender For Court Appointments
Aleading member of the South Carolina Senate remains steadfast and unapologetic after making controversial remarks about the state’s all-male supreme court during a televised proceeding earlier this month.
On January 8, 2024, S.C. Senate majority leader Shane Massey and minority leader Brad Hutto were questioned about the Palmetto State’s controversial judicial selection process — an issue very familiar to our audience.
South Carolina is one of only two states in America where lawmakers elect judges. As reported over and over and over again, this process is notoriously corrupt and continuously yields unsatisfactory results. It is also yielding unrepresentative results, according to a group of women leaders.
Last year, the S.C. General Assembly replaced the only woman on the state supreme court with a man — making ours the only state in the nation without a female on its court of last resort. On February 8, 2023, a joint session of the S.C. General Assembly chose appeals court judge Garrison Hill to fill the seat of outgoing justice Kaye Hearn, who stepped down after reaching the state’s mandatory retirement age for judges.
Hill was campaigning against two female candidates – both of whom had longer tenures on the court of appeals than he did. Nonetheless, they both bowed out within hours of the S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) permitting candidates to seek endorsements — or “commitments” — from lawmakers.
Fueling further controversy? The Palmetto State’s all-male bench was reestablished amidst vigorous statewide debate over a six-week abortion ban. In fact, justice Hearn authored the lead opinion in the January 2023 ruling striking down that ban.