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SC Supreme Court

  • Justices on South Carolina's highest court have erased an order that cut 16 years off a convicted murderer's sentence. The prisoner secured the deal after reporting another inmate's escape that had gone undetected for two days. The 3-2 ruling vacating the reduced sentence for Jeroid Price came less than two hours after the South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in the case. The justices wrote that they would explain their decision later. During oral arguments Wednesday, the justices said in part that they didn't like Price's deal having been kept secret. Price walked out of prison 19 years into his 35-year murder sentence. The state is arguing that the deal to release him was invalid.
  • South Carolina has became the nation's only state without a woman on its Supreme Court — a development that comes amid increasing Republican scrutiny of the court that narrowly struck down the conservative state's abortion ban last month. The Republican-led Legislature on Wednesday chose Judge Gary Hill to replace the high court's lone female justice, Kaye Hearn, who had reached the court's retirement age. Hearn wrote the leading opinion in the 3-2 ruling overturning the state's 2021 abortion ban. Hill was the only candidate for the position remaining after two female candidates, Judges Stephanie McDonald and Aphrodite Konduros, dropped out on Jan. 17, which was the day candidates could begin seeking legislators' support.
  • South Carolina's attorney general on Monday is asking the state's high court to reconsider its ruling striking down the state's six-week abortion ban. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed the rehearing request with the South Carolina Supreme Court on Monday. The court, in a 3-2 decision earlier this month, ruled that the 2021 law banning abortions when cardiac activity is detected, at about six weeks after conception, violated the state constitution's right to privacy. Wilson said he disagreed with the decision and argued that the framers of the privacy provision did not envision it as a right to abortion.
  • A circuit court must get more information from the South Carolina Department of Corrections regarding the agency's attempts to acquire lethal injection drugs. The Thursday order from the South Carolina Supreme Court means it could be four more months until justices decide whether a newly organized firing squad or the old electric chair are legal methods of execution. Four condemned prisoners have challenged a 2021 law that forced them to choose between the electric chair or a newly formed firing squad. South Carolina's batch of lethal injection drugs expired in 2013.
  • The State Supreme Court’s overturning of the state’s six-week, heartbeat abortion law earlier this month is still reverberating through the State House.This week Gov. Henry McMaster again criticized the court’s decision as did some conservative legislators, and a proposed new abortion law has already advanced in the House of Representatives.
  • Last week the SC Supreme Court ruled the state’s six-week Fetal Heartbeat Law unconstitutional stating that it violated a woman’s right to privacy as provided by the state constitution. That left the previous 20-week abortion law in effect. The court’s decision didn’t sit well with the state’s conservative Republican leadership opening the door for another abortion debate, and lawmakers signaling they may also begin something they have long avoided, closer scrutiny of the judicial philosophy of potential Supreme Court justices.
  • he top state courts in conservative Idaho and South Carolina have gone in opposite directions on challenges to abortion bans. The contradictory decisions Thursday are part of a patchwork of policies that have sprung up since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that there is no federally protected right to abortion, pushing the issue to states. Across the country, advocates for abortion rights are making similar arguments to try to get restrictions and bans struck down. But differences in state constitutions and state justices can lead to different outcomes in those cases.
  • South Carolina's highest court will hear arguments on whether a newly organized firing squad or the old electric chair are legal ways to execute inmates in the state. The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear an appeal Thursday of a lower court ruling that executions by electrocution or firing squad cause excruciating pain and are cruel and unusual punishments. South Carolina hasn't conducted an execution since 2011. Since then, the state's lethal injection drugs have expired and administrators have been unable to buy more. That led lawmakers in 2021 to pass a bill essentially requiring condemned inmates to be electrocuted unless they choose the firing squad.
  • South Carolina Supreme Court justices have grilled lawyers over the extent of the right to privacy in a case that could determine the scope of the state's abortion restrictions. Over 18 months of legal back and forth came to a head Wednesday when the justices heard arguments over whether the state constitution prohibits a 2021 ban on abortions after cardiac activity is detected, typically around six weeks. After being blocked by federal courts, the law took effect shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
  • The South Carolina "fetal heartbeat" law banning abortion around six weeks is no longer in effect after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked it. For now, South Carolinians can access abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy. In its order granting a preliminary injunction, the court said "at this preliminary stage, we are unable to determine with finality the constitutionality of the Act under our state's constitutional prohibition against unreasonable invasions of privacy." Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering additional restrictions. On Wednesday, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee held public testimony as they consider language for another proposal. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee advanced a near-total abortion ban with no restrictions for rape or incest.