JONATHON HILL: Stop Secret Judicial Elections … Or Else

Posted by on April 24, 2019 7:37 am
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4/23/2019

President of the Senate Harvey Peeler

CC: Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey
CC: Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler
CC: Senate Judiciary Chairman Luke Rankin
CC: Speaker of the House Jay Lucas
CC: House Majority Leader Gary Simrill
CC: House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford
CC: House Judiciary Chairman Peter McCoy

To the presiding officers and leaders of the South Carolina Senate and House:

It is clearly stated in Article V, Section 13 of the South Carolina Constitution that elections for circuit judges are to be done in public, stating that “the vote of each member of the General Assembly present and voting shall be recorded.”

As you are aware, the custom of the General Assembly, enabled by statute, has been to collect commitments for each judicial candidate beginning at noon on “commitment Tuesday.” Then, sometime before the judicial election date, the candidates who do not receive enough commitments will be expected and encouraged to drop out of the race. When they do, it allows the one remaining candidate to be elected “by acclamation” by a voice vote.

This practice violates the intent of Article V, Section 13 of the South Carolina Constitution by replacing public judicial election votes with a commitment process that is hidden from public view.

For this reason, be advised that until judicial candidates are no longer expected and encouraged to drop out of races so that they are uncontested, I will demand a roll call vote on the nomination by acclamation.

The election of judges, who are the very guardians of justice and due process of the citizens of South Carolina, is one of the most solemn duties of the General Assembly entrusted to us in the Constitution. It behooves us, for the sake of justice and public trust, to promote transparency and abide by the spirit of the Constitution in this regard, rather than inventing clever ways to circumvent it.

Sincerely,

Rep. Jonathon Hill
SC House District 8

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