A proposal to bring greater diversity to South Carolina’s courts drew debate from an “all-star” panel that included legislators and a judge at an event sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head/Bluffton area, according to a Hilton Head Island Packet report.
The national League of Women Voters, a JAS partner group, has made a priority of promoting diversity at all levels of the state judiciary to enhance the legitimacy of the justice system in the eyes of an increasingly diverse public.
In South Carolina, female judges comprise 28 percent of the state’s judiciary and minority judges, 12 percent. State legislators elect judges on the supreme, appeals, circuit, family and administrative law courts after the 10-member Judicial Merit Selection Commission recommends three candidates to fill a court vacancy.
The League’s recommendations for changing the way judges are selected in South Carolina include requiring the screening commission to reflect overall diversity in the state; increasing the number of applicants considered by the legislature; and reducing the period when candidates may campaign for support.
You can learn more about the League of Women Voter of South Carolina’s 2010-2012 Initiative on Judicial Independence and Diversity from the group’s website. JAS, collaborating with its partners, is engaged in important work advocating and enhancing judicial diversity; it released this year a comprehensive guide, targeted at underrepresented populations, about gaining a federal judgeship.
Meanwhile, a Fox News article profiled Judge Albert Diaz of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the first Hispanic jurist to serve on that bench. He was nominated by President Obama.