State House

South Carolina Supreme Court Vacancy: Candidate List Released

Six names submitted to panel …

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Six candidates have submitted paperwork with the scandal-scarred South Carolina Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) to be considered for a looming vacancy on the Palmetto State’s high court.

Chief justice Donald Beatty is stepping down from his post on July 31, 2024. At the time of his resignation, Beatty – a former Democratic House member from Spartanburg, S.C. – will have served more than seven years as chief justice and more than 17 years on the high court.

Has his reign facilitated justice in South Carolina? No … not at all.

Beatty’s successor as chief justice has already been chosen. Justice John Kittredge was unanimously elected by the S.C. General Assembly to fill this role on March 7, 2024. However, the vacant slot on the five-justice panel remains to be addressed.

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The six candidates hoping to fill the vacancy are: S.C. administrative law judge Ralph K. Anderson III, appeals court judge Blake Hewitt, circuit court judge Deadra Jefferson, circuit court judge Keith Kelly, circuit court Jocelyn Newman and appeals court judge Letitia Verdin.

Under current JMSC rules, the names of only three candidates can be submitted to the legislature for a vote – no matter how many candidates are deemed qualified. This cap on candidates is one of several rules currently being debated by lawmakers as they mull modest reforms to the composition and operation of this shady panel.

Sources familiar with the field say Verdin – 53, of Travelers Rest, S.C. – is the odds-on favorite to capture the position. And for once, the purportedly preordained outcome would actually be the preferable outcome.

Lawmakers are currently scheduled to vote on this vacancy on June 5, 2024. Keep it tuned to this media outlet for updates as the process moves forward.

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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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