The S.C. Republican Party has decided against removing a State Senator from its 2012 primary ballot despite the fact that he appears to have violated the State Constitution by challenging a former party official to a duel.

As we reported exclusively earlier this week, S.C. Sen. Jakie Knotts (RINO-Lexington) is facing a legal challenge over his ballot eligibility from Katrina Shealy – one of dozens of candidates who was booted from the primary ballot earlier this month for failing to file required financial disclosure forms.

Shealy’s complaint against Knotts – a former law enforcement officer- stems from a 2010 incident in which Knotts is said to have challenged former SCGOP official Patrick Haddon to a duel.

South Carolina’s Constitution (Article XVII Section 1B, to be precise) states that “any person who shall fight a duel or send or accept a challenge for that purpose, or be an aider or abettor in fighting a duel, shall be deprived of holding any office of honor or trust in this State, and shall be otherwise punished as the law shall prescribe.”

While that language is unambiguous, the SCGOP chose not to address the issue of Knotts’ ballot eligibility.

“The South Carolina Republican Party is not equipped to deal with such Constitutional questions, and is therefore unable to amend your original protest,” SCGOP executive director Matt Moore wrote in a letter to Shealy’s attorneys.

Shealy is expected to file a lawsuit over Knotts’ alleged duel challenge – one that will seek to remove Knotts from the 2012 ballot and his office.

Dueling does have a long tradition in American politics – particularly in the South. In fact, the first dueling laws in this country were written by former S.C. Gov. John Lyde Wilson in 1838. Dueling was outlawed by the U.S. Congress in 1839, however, after U.S. Rep. Jonathan Cilley (D-Maine) was shot and killed by U.S. Rep. William J. Graves (Whig- Kentucky).