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There will soon be no black judges on the South Carolina Supreme Court

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — For the first time in nearly two decades, all of the justices on the South Carolina Supreme Court will be white.

Diversity on the bench is a big issue in a state where African Americans and Hispanics make up a third of the population. The General Assembly elects the state's judges, and black lawmakers went out briefly of the judicial elections five years ago due to diversity concerns.

If a new judge is appointed after next week's election, South Carolina will join 18 other states whose supreme courts are all white, according to the Brennan Center for Justicethat addresses diversity and other issues in court systems.

In twelve of these states, the proportion of minorities in the population is at least 20 percent, the organization reported.

District Judge Jocelyn Newman was the only black candidate for the vacant seat on the state Supreme Court. The only African-American on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Don Beatty, must resign because he has reached the mandatory retirement age of 72.

But Newman withdrew from the race after the candidates began asking MPs for support, leaving two candidates – a white man and a white woman.

In South Carolina, judicial candidates generally do not campaign or appear in public, except for hearings at which a panel examines their qualifications and limits the number of candidates presented to lawmakers to three.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has already been under fire because it is the only all-male supreme court in the United States. decided last year with 4:1 and held the state's strict ban on abortion about six weeks after conception, before many women know they are pregnant.

This decision came after the legislature made minor changes to the law and the woman who wrote the majority opinion with a 3:2 decision had to retire due to age.

“Sometimes it’s nice to look at the bench and see someone who looks like you,” Judge Kaye Hearn said in an interview with South Carolina ETV after she left the court.

Beatty's successor on the bench this summer will be John Kittredge, who faced no opponent in his campaign. Kittredge told lawmakers that diversity in the judicial system is critical and that only the General Assembly, whose 118 of 170 members are Republicans, can ensure it.

“We have a great system. But if it doesn't reflect the people of South Carolina, we will lose the respect and integrity of the public we serve.” Said Kittredge.

Anna Harden

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