I touched on the problems with the method that we elect judges in an earlier post. In regards to that article, I am still waiting to hear from the Legislative Audit Council if they will initiate an audit of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission. They are supposed to consider the request this month.
While we wait, we need only look to the “judicial election” that was conducted by the General Assembly this past Wednesday to see the end result of the method that I and other members have asked to be audited. The end result was that the General Assembly did not have an election because all of the candidates of the contested races had withdrawn. When a House member moved to turn the “judicial election” into an actual election (as was his right under the state constitution), he was ignored repeatedly by the President of the General Assembly.
I was shocked and saddened. In the years that I have been in the General Assembly, I have never witnessed such an overt and callous disregard for the oath that we all took to defend the state constitution. I also have never witnessed such contempt for an individual member – a duly elected member who represents 44,000 South Carolinians.
Below is the text from a letter that I sent to the Speaker of the House this past Friday:
“On February 5, 2020, the General Assembly gathered in joint session to elect judges. It was during this session that I witnessed the repeated disenfranchisement of a House member by the President of the joint assembly . . . .
I understand that the Republican leadership may be frustrated with particular members of our body but our leadership must not run roughshod over the rights granted to those members by the citizens who elected them and by our state constitution. Furthermore, the actions of [the President] raise questions about the method of how these candidates are chosen and are an example of why the entire judicial screening must be reformed.
The disenfranchisement of one member disenfranchises the whole body.”
Someone asked if I thought that the election was lawful? How can any legislative process be lawful if the entity that makes the law refuses to follow the constitution that created it?