South Carolinians praying for judicial reform have renewed hope this week thanks to Senator Wes Climer of York County.
Back in the fall, Senator Climer had promised to filibuster the voting on judicial nominations if the candidates were before the Senate without first revamping the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC). Well… there has yet to be reform of the JMSC and Senator Climer’s commitment has not been diluted; in fact, he is charging ahead with significant support from his colleagues.
As regular readers are aware, the JMSC is the inherently flawed system where lawyer-legislators handpick the judges who they deem favorable. This 10-member panel has faced heightened scrutiny of late as convicted murderers like Alex Murdaugh and Jeroid Price have shed a spotlight on how ethically compromised judges like Carmen Mullen and Casey Manning enable such criminals.
Perhaps to avoid future public safety threats and nationwide BOLOs precipitated by JMSC judges, the judicial reform movement has tremendous bipartisan support in the House of Representatives but there has been concern that momentum would be stymied when the bill crosses to the other chamber; the initiative by Senator Climer helps ensure that reform WILL happen.
A vote on judges was initially anticipated at a joint session on February 7, 2024, and the House of Representatives had sent a joint resolution to the Senate this week proposing such. Climer and two fellow senators have blocked it from receiving a hearing.
Additionally, as Senator Climer reiterated to FITSNEWS, the promotion of Justice John Kittredge to Chief Justice would be an exception to the blocked judicial appointments and joint resolution S.1000 he introduced on Thursday provides accordingly: A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION — TO FIX NOON ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2024, AS THE TIME TO ELECT A SUCCESSOR TO A CERTAIN CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT, UPON HIS RETIREMENT ON OR BEFORE JULY 31, 2024, AND THE SUCCESSOR WILL FILL A NEW TERM OF THAT OFFICE WHICH WILL EXPIRE JULY 31, 2034.
In speaking with Senator Climer earlier today, he stated that his colleagues who benefit from the JMSC are not anxious to see the system of ‘justice’ reformed, however, he has received significant support in a very short timeframe. With 24 total sponsors already for S.1000 in the 46-member Senate, the legislators who do oppose the filibuster would lack the number of votes needed to end it.
The SC Freedom Caucus and particularly Representative Joe White from Newberry County have not wavered in their commitment to judicial reform; Senator Climer’s leadership in the Senate might just be what ultimately gets a judicial reform bill over the finish line.