Will Donald Beatty Get Barack Obama’s Next Federal Bench Nod?

STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE COULD MOVE TO FEDERAL BENCH … By FITSNEWS || U.S. President Barack Obama quietly withdrew the nomination of controversial S.C. circuit court judge Alison Lee for a spot on the federal bench in late September – a decision that got precisely zero attention in the Palmetto State….


By FITSNEWS || U.S. President Barack Obama quietly withdrew the nomination of controversial S.C. circuit court judge Alison Lee for a spot on the federal bench in late September – a decision that got precisely zero attention in the Palmetto State.

Last year, The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper presented Lee’s appointment as a fait accompli given her status as the “niece of the late trailblazing S.C. civil rights lawyer and federal judge Matthew Perry.”

“Despite the lack of open support from the two crucial senators, it’s likely – unless something unforeseen surfaces – that Lee, 54, will become a $174,000-a-year federal judge by December,” the paper’s news columnist John Monk reported at the time, quoting a constitutional law scholar.

“The White House doesn’t nominate anybody without home state support, so I’m just assuming the two senators are OK with this,” the scholar told Monk.

Oops …

Turns out neither Senator was “OK” with Lee … which isn’t surprising given her ongoing issues as it relates to judicial leniency.  And no, we’re not referring to the sort of “judicial leniency” that common sense people support (i.e. freeing non-violent drug offenders in lieu of decriminalizing marijuana), we’re talking about the sort of leniency that permits violent criminals to go free on bond (violent criminals who then celebrate their freedom by murdering people).

Anyway … with Lee’s nomination officially kaput (before the first hearing was held), Obama must now find another option to replace retiring federal judge Cameron McGowan Currie.

Who will he choose?

As noted in this post, speculation thus far has centered around S.C. Supreme Court justice Donald Beatty.

“Beatty’s situation is interesting in that his supporters – and opponents – are lobbying equally hard for him to become a federal judge,” we wrote.  “FITS readers may recall Beatty getting into a high-profile fight recently with the state’s solicitors, who are eager to see him removed from the state’s high court.”

They are … but Beatty’s supporters are pushing equally hard to see him appointed to the federal bench.

Will that happen?

We shall see …

Given the looming retirements of S.C. chief justice Jean Toal and senior associate justice Costa Pleicones, Beatty is in line to be chief justice of the Palmetto State’s Supreme Court within the next few years.

Would he trade that for a federal judgeship?  And the lifetime appointment that goes with it?

Again, we shall see …

Sources tell FITS Beatty is inclined to take the federal appointment if it is offered to him – believing Palmetto State “Republicans” have the votes to pass him over for the chief justice’s spot.


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John November 7, 2014 at 11:05 am

Put him on the Federal bench, please. The 4th Circuit can fix his mistakes, and the South Carolina Supreme Court will have room for one more corrupt former legislator.

Dave Chappelle I'm Rick James November 7, 2014 at 11:39 am

Very good point. 4th Circuit will provide oversight. SC Supreme Court, not so much.

RogueElephant November 7, 2014 at 11:21 am

With all the retirements coming up, it looks like a good time to bring the election of judges by the people front and center in the legislature. This is a very important job that should not be handed out as a plum to some politician. A serious discussion is definitely in order.

Dave Chappelle I'm Rick James November 7, 2014 at 11:38 am

While I agree that the current method needs adjusting, a completely open election screams for opportunities of corruption, fraud, and abuse.

It would be a maze trying to trace all the campaign money back to special interest groups set to benefit from a federal judge’s decisions.

RogueElephant November 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I was referring to the state supreme court and all state level judges. What really burns my grits is a senator that sits on the judiciary committee, writes the DUI laws then comes back home and gets rich representing DUI “suspects” before magistrates he appoints. I think an elected judiciary would be more answerable to the voters. Federal judges are another story. The area they represent is too large to keep track of what they do day to day as well as too large an area of responsibility.

Mike at the Beach November 8, 2014 at 8:55 am

There’s no conflict of interest there! Those state-level judges (just like magistrates) remain TOTALLY dispassionate and impartial when the person who appointed them defends a case in their court. Nothin’ to see here folks…move along. It’s just the
Senator showing up in Summary Court with his request for a bench trial (during which he will no doubt receive a ruling very favorable to his client).

There’s no real conflict or even the appearance of impropriety, though. I know, because the Senate says so…

Dave Chappelle I'm Rick James November 10, 2014 at 8:41 am

Agreed. Very true.

Big Brother November 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Yeah. The voters made such great choices Tuesday we need to let them pick judges too.

Mike at the Beach November 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Democracy can be a messy business.

Big Brother November 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Post Citizens United democracy is pretty cut and dried Mike

Mike at the Beach November 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Sure- tell that to George Soros…

Republican Follies November 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm

And Dave Koch

Mike at the Beach November 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

My point precisely. Rich liberals can spend…rich conservatives can spend. We can’t whine about CU and the Koch bros. while Soros, Seyer, Bloomberg, etc. are out there playing the same song. I think the Dems are actually just upset that the R’s are finally starting to get their act together, learn the new environment, and organize a bit.

RogueElephant November 7, 2014 at 6:48 pm

So the crap the people elected are somehow better than the people who elected them ????

CL November 11, 2014 at 8:32 am

I practiced in NC and say with all confidence that you do not want popular judicial elections unless your goal is to get a judiciary even dumber and more results oriented than the one you currently see in this state. I would personally go with the federal model, but our system is better by leaps and bounds than general elections. Read the Massey opinion for the type of conflicts messes you get with popular elections.

RogueElephant November 11, 2014 at 9:40 am

Advice and consent of the senate is probably as good as it can realistically get but I just like the idea of the people making as many decisions as possible, thus reflecting their direction. Obviously there is no way to attain impartial , honest judges any more than anything else.

CL November 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

The best we can hope for in any political system is what Churchill said about democracy, which he described as “the worst form of Gov­ern­ment except for all those other forms that have been tried….” In my experience, general elections produce the lowest quality of judges. You get a group keenly aware of who is, is not, and needs to be contributing to their campaign. You also get judges who really take account for how their decisions will resonate with voters, which is a very different question from what the law requires.

RogueElephant November 11, 2014 at 11:34 pm

“You also get judges who really take account of how their decisions resonate with voters.” That sounds to me like a good thing. In my area we have a few thieves that go and come in the judicial system as the classic “revolving door” . A judge that knew if he didn’t stop this activity would be back in a law office typing wills would tend to do what the people wanted. I would think. I really can’t get a handle on the down side of electing judges. They need to answer to someone other than “their peers.”

CL November 12, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Imagine Nikki Haley or Harry Reid as a judge and you might see the downside.

Judges need to be accountable before the law, not before low information voters who only intersect with the law at points like the McDonalds coffee case.

RogueElephant November 13, 2014 at 8:15 am

Got me there. So peer review is the answer ? Advice and consent ? I really have a problem with the legislature , like we have in SC. Is there a good way ?

CL November 14, 2014 at 9:27 am

I think the federal model is the best of a bunch of bad systems. It introduces an adversarial element (assuming the Senate at least has a functioning minority) that can at least shine a light on unqualified appointments.

Old RC Lawyer November 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

For the Good Lord’s sake and the people of South Carolina, get this Toal puppet off of the South Carolina Supreme Court. He is an idiot with anger management issues.

This is NOT a race issue, so don’t even pull that card.

Indeed November 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Plus 100! zing!

Six ft. Under Makes Us All Eq November 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Seems like you are the only one “pulling” the race card…It’s interesting to see how people “deflect.”

hmmm November 8, 2014 at 11:02 pm

He is a total puppet, he is an idiot, he does have anger management issues, he is shitty juirist, why can’t that all still be true just because he happens to be black.

Bible Thumper November 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Cop who beat guy at Walmart, cleared but resigns.

“In this case, there is absolutely no question that this officer did not exceed the scope of his ability and his force,” Solicitor Wilkins said.

“My decision to accept his resignation is based on my opinion that he applied improper force techniques and was in violation of sheriff’s office policy,” said Sheriff Loftis.

Sierad was arrested, again, in early September for resisting arrest, said Wilkins. But, he said, the second arrest didn’t play a factor in his decision to close the investigation. 

jimlewisowb November 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Poetic justice would be for Beatty to be appointed to the Federal Bench and Lee appointed to the SC Supreme Court

Of course if this happened no one in the area of Five Points would be able to park their cars on the street near the residence of Chief Justice Toad

tomstickler November 8, 2014 at 10:35 am

Everyone seems to be forgetting that, with Republicans controlling the Senate, no Obama nominations are passing for the next two years, amirite?

nitrat November 9, 2014 at 8:29 am

A judge with a demonstrated courage to stand up to corrupt solicitors who don’t mind sending innocent people to prison by doing things like hiding exculpatory evidence is someone we should want elevated.

Old RC lawyer November 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Beatty is a corrupt, dumb, hot head that has only done what Toal and the leaders of the Black Caucus have told him to do for years.

Beatty was mad at the solicitors because he didn’t like those who did not play by fair and just Rules and those who did not adhere to the basic principles of due process when these solicitors should have known that only he and Jean Toal have those rights in South Carolina.

Ask Henry Richardson, Jr. about Toal and Beatty’s belief in due process and honesty. He will run into his little office in Sumter County so fast you would think a bullet was chasing him.


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