Wednesday, December 28, 2005

State Black Caucus says judicial elections are unfair

According to an article in the Rock Hill Herald, the Legislative Black Caucus is protesting that South Carolina has seven black judges out of 112 total, even though at least 30 percent of the state's population is black. The Caucus is threatening a lawsuit over the matter.

All candidates for judgeships are screened by the 10-person Judicial Merit Selection Committee, made up of six lawmakers and four lay people appointed by lawmakers. Only three names are submitted to the legislature as a whole to run as judicial candidates. Many black leaders see having all qualified candidates on the ballot as a way to get more black candidates on the ballot.

Blacks also make up only about 5 percent of the state's lawyers. Current law school enrollment doesn't point toward any increase in the percentage of black lawyers. The University of South Carolina law school, for almost four decades the only law school in the state, has about 740 students, according to statistics released by the registrar's office. Only 47 of them are black and 27 are other races.

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