Dave Crockett points out that we haven’t discussed the SC Supreme Court’s unanimous smackdown of Judge Manning’s bizarre ruling in the matter of Bobby Harrell, and Alan Wilson’s power to investigate him.
Maybe I’ve just been avoiding it, subconsciously, out of petulance over being scooped by that upstart Bryan Caskey:
— Bryan Caskey (@BryanCaskey) July 9, 2014
Bryan didn’t just scoop ME. I happened to read that Tweet while attending the awards ceremony at The State Wednesday afternoon. I followed his link, and passed my phone first to Cindi Scoppe, then to John Monk — two people who have done more than anyone to keep us informed on this case — to give them the heads-up. (To John’s credit, he had told me before we sat down that the ruling was sort of expected, “Even as we stand here.” Fortunately, another reporter from the paper was covering that base while he was occupied.)
What to make of the ruling?
Well, to start with, it affirms what remaining faith we have in the rule of law. The justices unanimously rejected the absurd argument that the trial judge had constructed of whole cloth.
On the other hand, Manning could still rule unfavorably on Wilson’s ability to continue to handle the investigation, as the judge was instructed by the court to consider Harrell’s original motion seeking to remove the attorney general from the case.
So justice is still not out of the woods.
And I’m still a bit worried by that footnote to the ruling: “Due to the secrecy afforded state grand jury proceedings, future arguments regarding jurisdiction, or any other ancillary matter, should be held in camera.” I’m not sure what that means, in terms of what will be cloaked in secrecy and what will not. You’ll recall that our awareness of this power struggle began with John’s story about how the attempt by Harrell to have the court consider whether to toss Wilson off the case secretly.
On that point, I await further elucidation.
There seems little doubt, though, that the justices have been distressed from the start by the splash this case has made on the front pages.
But how could it be otherwise — a struggle between the highest levels of two branches of our government, with the third branch caught uncomfortably between?