Attorney General Alan Wilson hosted a second panel discussion on the critical need for judicial reform with South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick and Palmetto Family Council Executive Director and Interim President Mitch Prosser.
“Our current system for selecting judges is imbalanced. The executive branch has no role, or check, on the legislature and judiciary when it comes to selecting judges. That needs to change,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson. “To deliver judicial reform that is truly accountable to the people, we need to give the Governor, or the executive branch, the appointments to the JMSC, remove legislators from serving on the JMSC, and send all qualified judicial candidates to the General Assembly for consideration.”
In South Carolina, judges are selected through the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) and voted on by the legislature. The JMSC currently has 10 members, 6 being sitting legislators. All the commissioners are appointed by the legislative leadership.
Attorney General Wilson continues, “Having no involvement from the Governor, or executive branch, in the selection of judges breeds mistrust and potential for abuse. Giving everyone benefit of the doubt, even if there is no example of unfair influence, people believe there is. Perception is reality, and that breeds mistrust in our system. Right now, power is concentrated with one branch of government while accountability is dispersed.”
During the panel discussion, SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick spoke about the importance of selecting quality judges and how accountability and transparency help the quality of judges in our state.“
We have elections every two years here in our state. You have clear results and after the election, depending on which side of the fence you’re on, you can easily see who did well and who to hold accountable,” said Drew McKissick. “I think giving more accountability into our judicial selection process would go a long way in restoring trust. Our Party platform even says our system ‘lacks accountability and should be reformed to inspire confidence of the people.’”
Mitch Prosser with Palmetto Family highlighted how the judiciary affects all aspects of everyone’s lives. He mentions how most people think of judges and the importance of the judicial branch at the federal level, but how the South Carolina judiciary matters just as much, if not more, to our daily lives.
“Good governance requires all three branches to have transparency and accountability,” said Mitch Prosser. “As the judicial branch issues opinions on substantive issues affecting families across our state, it’s obvious to us that South Carolinians deeply care about meaningful reform.”
Attorney General Wilson will continue to push for serious judicial reform and host discussions across the state leading up to the next legislative session in January.
In July, Attorney General Wilson hosted a roundtable discussion with more than 30 legislators in attendance with Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and Dr. Oran Smith of Palmetto Promise Institute. Read the release here.
In May, Attorney General Wilson hosted a private roundtable with 30 pastors and faith leaders from across the state.
In March, Attorney General Wilson led a bipartisan law enforcement coalition calling for judicial reform. Read the release here.