COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson held a second panel discussion Monday morning focused on how the state selects its judges.
Wilson was joined by South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick and Palmetto Family Council Interim President Mitch Prosser.
Attorney General Wilson said that the current method of appointing judges in South Carolina is imbalanced. He stressed one way to reform the process is to include the executive branch’s input and reduce the legislature’s influence.
“To ensure a judicial reform that truly answers to the people, we must grant the governor a role in appointing the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC), remove legislators from JMSC, and present all qualified judicial candidates to the General Assembly for evaluation,” said Wilson.
In South Carolina, the JMSC is responsible for choosing judges, with the legislature voting on their selection. Currently, the JMSC has 10 members, including 6 sitting legislators, all appointed by legislative leadership.
Attorney General Wilson continued expressing concern that the absence of executive branch involvement in selecting judges creates doubts about fairness and the potential for manipulation.
He highlighted the perception that one branch holds excessive power, while accountability is dispersed.
“Even in the absence of direct evidence, people’s perception matters, affecting trust in our system,” Wilson said.
Right now, South Carolina is one of two states where state lawmakers select the state’s judges.
Wilson said he has had productive discussions with members of the General Assembly over the last few months. He said the issue is not partisan.
“There is a lot of openness to reform. I have talked to some of those on the JMSC, I feel like we are at a crossroads where we can get some real reform,” he said.
Lawmakers return to Columbia in January 2024.