Would you treat cancer with Tylenol only?

It’s not enough!

It is like treating cancer with Tylenol®.

Though it is a good start in the right direction, we can’t stop with S1512.

More than 100 candidates who were challenging incumbents have been ruled ineligible by the South Carolina Supreme Court and have been kicked off the ballot…  all for a paperwork technicality.

Incumbents who did the exact same thing as the challengers have been allowed to stay on the ballot!

S1512 will give the current batch of 2012 challengers the chance to get back on the ballot.

But it does not fix the bad election law and the dependent judiciary that created this problem.

So, please contact your Senator NOW and tell him to vote for S1512 or else!

The Senate Judiciary Committee will be meeting on Tuesday at 10:00 AM in Room 308 of the Gressette building to vote on this bill.  They need to hear from you TODAY!  (check here for latest schedule)

You can find your Senator and his contact information at this link.

But, S1512 is only a Tylenol®.  The cause of this mess is like an advanced cancer that requires major surgery.

In order to prevent this debacle from happening again, we MUST fix the inequity in the law that has caused challengers to be kicked off the ballot for doing the same thing that incumbents did. 

And we must make our courts independent of the legislature. 

Our state deserves true separation of powers… leaving no doubt about the legitimacy of our Supreme Court’s ruling.

You see, our election law is preferential to the incumbents.  It gives a very strict filing requirement to challengers and a very relaxed requirement to the incumbent.

The difference is stark and is illustrated by the race between Senator Larry Martin and challenger Rex Rice.

Challenger Rex Rice filed his statement of economic interest (SEI) on April 9th.  Senator Larry Martin filed his SEI on April 10th.  Rex Rice has been kicked off the ballot for filing his SEI too late.  Senator Martin, the incumbent, remains on the ballot!

In addition, the law is written to require a challenger to file his SEI simultaneously with his declaration of candidacy and that both sets of paperwork must be filed with the same official.

This made Kerry Wood, candidate for State House district 11, ineligible, even though he filed his SEI before the deadline, but 45 minutes later than his declaration of candidacy.

Again, this requirement doesn’t apply to the incumbent.

Underlying all this are doubts raised by not having an independent Supreme Court.  Having a judicial branch of government that is wholly dependent on the General Assembly makes rulings such as this one suspect.

You see, instead of following the model set up by our founding fathers where the President appoints judges with the advice and consent of the Senate, our state has the General Assembly unilaterally appointing judges.

That’s right; the Supreme Court Justices of our state are making judgments on the laws created by the exact same people who appointed them.

Can there be true independence under these circumstances?  There will always be reason to doubt.

And in this case, they are judging the eligibility of candidates who are challenging the very lawmakers who appointed them!

Now, if you have read the election laws and the judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court, you are probably saying, “But Talbert, the judges ruled exactly as the law specifies!  How can you say their ruling is suspect?”

On the one hand, you would be right.  The judges did rule exactly as the letter of the law specifies.

However, in a prior case from 1999 (GEORGE v. MUNICIPAL ELECTION COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF CHARLESTON), the South Carolina Supreme Court ignored the letter of the law, instead, stating that a fair election where the voters are not disenfranchised was more important.  Specifically, they stated:

After an election in which no fraud is alleged or proven, when the Court seeks to uphold the result in order to avoid disenfranchising those who voted, such provisions are merely directory even though the Legislature used seemingly mandatory terms such as “shall” or “must” in establishing the provisions.  “Courts justly consider the main purpose of such laws, namely, the obtaining of a fair election and an honest return, as paramount in importance to the minor requirements which prescribe the formal steps to reach that end, and, in order not to defeat the general design, are frequently led to ignore such innocent irregularities of election officers as are free of fraud, and have not interfered with a full and fair expression of the voter’s choice.”

However, the court has stated that before the election takes place, the letter of the law is more important.  Why?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

It seems to me that in all cases the court should use the same standard.  Either, rule by the spirit of the law always OR rule by the letter of the law, always.

Picking and choosing when to use the letter of the law and when to use the spirit of the law makes both rulings highly suspicious.

You see how not having an independent judiciary calls into question the integrity of their ruling?

The question always lurks in the mind of the public… was the ruling politically motivated or not?

No one can say for certain that the ruling last week was politically motivated, but as long as our judiciary is unilaterally appointed by the very people who are involved in the case, or who make the laws that must be judged, we can never say for certain that the court’s rulings are independently and fairly made!

It is time to remove the uncertainty!

Our judges must NOT be appointed by our lawmakers.

It is time for an amendment to our South Carolina Constitution that makes the appointment of our judges follow the model that our founders set up.

The judges of South Carolina should be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the General Assembly.

So, please contact your Senator IMMEDIATELY and insist that the Senate do ALL THREE things THIS YEAR.

It will take two thirds of the Senate to make it happen for various procedural reasons, but we must insist.  Tell him:

  1. Pass S1512 to the House on Tuesday.  Don’t adjourn until it happens!
  2. Fix the election law so that it is equitable to all who desire to be a candidate on the ballot, and remove the “simultaneous filing” requirement.  It is ridiculous.
  3. Make sure an amendment to Article V of the South Carolina Constitution is on the ballot this November.  It must make South Carolina judges (supreme, appellate, circuit court judges and magistrates) appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the General Assembly.

You can find who your Senator is and his contact information at this link.

There is no time to waste!

We cannot let the inequities in South Carolina’s election law continue past this election season.

And we cannot wait another election season to make our judiciary truly independent!

A phone call and an e-mail will be more significant than traveling to Columbia to be at the hearing.  So, whether or not you plan to attend the hearing on Tuesday, MAKE SURE you call AND e-mail your Senator today!

Best regards,

Talbert Black, Jr.


About Talbert Black

Talbert Black Jr is the founder of Palmetto Liberty PAC. His education in state politics & citizen lobbying began in 1999 with his membership in GrassRoots GunRights SC. In 2008 he joined the Campaign for Liberty and within a year he was the Interim State Coordinator for South Carolina. His goal for Palmetto Liberty PAC is to change to composition of South Carolina’s General Assembly so that it consistently supports conservative principles.

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