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State Must Stop Charleston Law School Meddling

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TAXPAYERS PLACED IN PRECARIOUS POSITION …

By FITSNEWS || Looking for proof of the danger – and potential cost to taxpayers – of government meddling in private sector transactions?

Last weekend, the American Bar Association (ABA)’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar deferred action on the Charleston School of Law (CSOL)’s proposed sale to Infilaw.

According to Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, the ABA wants to wait until the state of South Carolina’s Commission on Higher Education (CHE) reaches a decision on whether to grant Infilaw a license to operate the school.

CHE staff have already recommended granting this license, while another ABA panel ruled last month in favor of the proposed sale from an accreditation standpoint. Nonetheless, the CHE’s political appointees have declined to take action on the proposal – ostensibly under pressure from state lawmakers who want to expand the state’s already bloated system of higher education.

Just last week liberal columnist Cindi Ross Scoppe of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper opined “a lot of people would love to see (CSOL) rescued by the state.”

Really?

South Carolina already operates an excessively large, exceedingly inefficient system of higher education – one that continues to drain taxpayers of resources that could be used to fund core functions of government (cops, courts, roads, bridges, etc.).

Taking on a second law school would only exacerbate the waste and duplication in the state’s existing higher education system.

Also the College of Charleston – which many lawmakers wanted to absorb CSOL – is not interested in assuming the financial burden associated with operating the institution, according to its president Glenn McConnell.

“The University of Charleston South Carolina doesn’t have anything to do with the law school,” McConnell told Scoppe. “The only way it’s gonna happen is if the Legislature forces it on us — and gives us the money. It’s not something we want. The Board of Trustees doesn’t want it. Their president doesn’t want it. It doesn’t make sense.”

He’s right … nor does it make sense for taxpayers to subsidize the school independent of the College of Charleston.

“As we have noted since we announced our intention to purchase the Charleston School of Law, InfiLaw is the only organization with a source of capital and capacity to tackle the financial challenges facing the school and is prepared to do so upon approval of the regulatory bodies and completion of the sale,” a statement from Infilaw provided to the National Law Journal read. “No other viable option has been presented which has both the financial capacity and the experience in owning and operating a successful law school.”

That’s true.

Charleston lawyer Ed Westbrook, who retains a minority interest in the school, claims he could run it as a non-profit – but has presented no viable plan to do so and has put no money forward in support of his stated intentions.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: State government has no business blocking this sale, period. A majority of CSOL’s owners have decided to sell the school to InfiLaw – and they should be allowed to do so.

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