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James Smith Judicial Drama: South Carolina ‘Republicans’ Circle The Wagons

Exposure of latest ‘judge-swapping’ scandal reveals a stunning betrayal …

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It’s been a wild five days since our media outlet filed its first report on the judicial candidacy of former South Carolina politician James Smith – a far left Democrat who won his party’s nomination for governor in 2018 and spent several years as its leader in the S.C. House of Representatives.

Inexplicably, the über-liberal Smith remains the frontrunner to win a circuit court judgeship from the Palmetto State’s supposedly GOP ‘supermajority.’ However, the last 120 hours have done significant damage to his aspirations (not to mention the rumored aspirations of his influential law firm to rid itself of his six-figure salary).

Our first treatment of this race highlighted the cognitive dissonance of so-called “conservative” members of the S.C. General Assembly – who were (are) advancing Smith’s candidacy despite his lifelong support for both abortion on demand as well as socialized medicine.

Smith has attempted to mitigate these criticisms by vowing not to challenge the state’s recently upheld ban on abortions after six weeks – and by (falsely) claiming never to have supported socialized medicine.

Our second treatment of this race was the real kicker, though, exposing the extent to which the other half of the Palmetto State uniparty – the Democratic caucus – was conspiring with the GOP to kick a qualified black judicial candidate off of the ballot to make way for Smith.

That’s right: The self-proclaimed party of diversity allegedly threatened a qualified black nominee – Justin T. Williams – with removal from his government posting if he refused to stand aside for a white politician.

Williams reportedly acquiesced to those threats and withdrew his candidacy on Tuesday – leaving Smith as the only candidate in the race.

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Why do these black Democrats want Williams out of the race so bad? Easy: With him no longer a candidate, they won’t have to vote on the record against him … and then explain that vote to their black constituents.

Helping get them off the hook? A trio of white Lowcountry “Republican” lawmakers who have reportedly betrayed one of their longtime friends in an effort to rig a separate circuit court race in favor of another black judge.

The logic behind this betrayal? That if Democrats can say they voted for the other black judicial candidate, their torpedoing of Williams won’t look so bad.

As I reported last week, GOP leaders have been attempting to manipulate the vote count in that race … which pits Summerville, S.C. attorney Russell D. Hilton (the favorite) against sitting administrative law judge Milton G. Kimpson and Columbia, S.C. attorney Joseph Bias.

Lawmakers are attempting to rig that race for Kimpson, whose brother previously served in the S.C. Senate.

Instrumental to their efforts? The machinations of three white GOP representatives – Chris Murphy, Robby Robbins and Gary Brewer Jr. Regular members of our audience will recall Murphy is intimately familiar with corruption in judicial races. Meanwhile, Robbins earned our ire with his full-throated defense of the Palmetto State’s failed status quo during a legislative hearing earlier this month. As for Brewer, he is now unfortunately becoming known by the company he keeps.

(Click to View)

Rep. Robby Robins at Third Judicial Reform Ad Hoc Committee Meeting
State representative Robby Robbins listens to testimony during a judicial selection reform panel meeting in Columbia, S.C. on December 13, 2023. (Dylan Nolan/ FITSNews)

All three of these status quo lawmakers have turned their backs on Hilton – a candidate from their own backyard who (like Williams) is being threatened to get out of the race. Making these threats all the more unpalatable? The fact Hilton goes back decades with some of the people now stabbing him in the back and pushing him to get out of the race.

“Friends for twenty-five years are now refusing to speak,” a source familiar with the status of the race told me.

To his credit, unlike Willams it seems Hilton is not stepping aside – throwing another wrench into the uniparty’s plan to rig both races.

South Carolina is one of only two states in America in which the legislature picks judges. As we have seen in far too many cases, powerful lawyer-legislators reap the rewards of their influence over this process by receiving preferential treatment on behalf of their clients. As this news outlet has consistently noted, the current system has enabled institutional corruption, shredded the rights of victims, empowered violent criminals and materially eroded public safety.

It has also turned the judiciary into little more than a political annex of the legislature – and the problem is getting worse, not better. With lawmakers covering up and whitewashing the problem – and installing more of their cronies – as opposed to enacting real reform.

Earlier this week, we reported on social conservative groups wising up to what was happening – and indicating their intention to hold lawmakers accountable for their votes.

Let’s hope that happens …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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3 comments

Squishy123 (the original) January 24, 2024 at 1:57 pm

Has James Smith done anything on his own? The guy has jobs created and handed to him his whole career. One of the best con men in South Carolina. USC finally got a President who saw through the bullshit and sent him packing. Nelson Mullins got suckered into taking him and it appears he has not done a think since they brought him in as partner. Todd Rutherford will say and do anything to get his buddy a position that’ll help him with his law practice.

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Squishy123 (the original) January 24, 2024 at 2:00 pm

You want to see how well Smith will do as a judge? Look at the freak kids he’s raised. Only one turned out normal. 50% blame goes to that weird wife of his who spends her day gluing shit to a board and passing it off as art.

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SubZeroIQ January 24, 2024 at 6:24 pm

I have no bone for or against Judicial Candidate James Emerson Smith any more than I have against ALL lawyers in Anglo-American jurisprudences, white or black, southern or northern, self-made or old-moneyed: they do NOT understand the importance of incorporating Science into the Law.
Without Science, all those lawyers, including the ones elevated to judgeships, are mere parrots of what idiotic (in the true Latin meaning of the word) dead white judges of dead white kings had once written.
Without TRUE science, law is glorified witchcraft.
Having said that, FITS plays dumb about Hilton being a white criminal defense lawyer who got nominated only after Ms. Bailey was removed, APPARENTLY at the behest of Pete Strom, a lawyer who sits on SC’s Judicial Merit Selection Commission.
Before Ms. Bailey’s removal, a black candidate was sure to win that seat since all three candidates are black.
Now, the black vote will be divided between the two black candidates (unless one of them withdraws) and the white Hilton wins.
I am wise to your propaganda, FITS, although I will continue to give you credit if and when you let my comments through.

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