SC Senate votes 37-3, without hesitation, to remove Confederate flag — no amendments, no conditions

Bill sponsor Vincent Sheheen fields media questions after the vote while the Rev. Jesse Jackson looks on. Jackson is much more pleased than he looks; I had just spoken with him.

Bill sponsor Vincent Sheheen fields media questions after the vote while the Rev. Jesse Jackson looks on. Jackson is much more pleased than he looks; I had just spoken with him.

And I’m so glad I got over there just in time to see it. Of course, that made it seem even more quick and painless to me — I didn’t have to sit through any of Lee Bright’s nonsense before being treated to the payoff.

I’m so proud of my state today, and I’m not alone. I spoke with my fellow native South Carolinian Jesse Jackson, and he was proud, too — of the Senate our governor, of everybody. So were retired Sens. Kay Patterson and McKinley Washington. I spoke with Vincent Sheheen, and told him I was proud of him, since it was his bill — although with more than half the body joining him in sponsoring it, that’s a lot of other people to be proud of, too.

But I doubt anyone is prouder than the senator’s themselves, who managed to perform this miracle after a session in which their body’s own particular flaws were on display more than usual.

Yep, I’m a little giddy. I’ve only been arguing that we should arrive at this point for 21 years. Rather, at the point we’ll be at after perfunctory third reading in the Senate tomorrow, and then the much-anticipated House approval.

So… I hope I’m not jinxing it, but I can’t help being excited. I mean, the Senate is the hard part, because it’s so easy for a single determined opponent to gum up the works, even on a bill with broad support.

I’m going to hit PUBLISH now, and come back and finish writing…

I’m back! The three “no” votes were Lee Bright (of course), Danny Verdin (no surprise) and Harvey Peeler. Everybody else present voted “aye.” I was surprised by Peeler. I think after this vote, his time as a power that might challenge Hugh Leatherman’s leadership and be listened to may be over. We’ll see. But to be so out of step with the very caucus that he nominally leads at such a historic moment… He was odd man out today.

Everybody’s hopeful about the House, although no one I’ve spoke to seems to be able to adequately explain why Speaker Jay Lucas is playing things so close to the vest. He had started discussions in the House about the flag before the governor’s historic press conference two weeks ago — which he did not attend, after sending out a release calling for “swift resolution.” Since then, he has declined to say even how he will vote — but it’s difficult to imagine him in any way bucking what happened in the Senate today, especially after all of that (well-justified) bragging recently about his chamber getting things done while the Senate dawdles.

We live in a new South Carolina, in which the normal, default position even among conservative Republicans is to get the Confederate flag off the State House grounds ASAP, with no ifs, ands or quibbling amendments.

Surely, surely, surely the House will at least try to match the speed and purity of message that the Senate displayed today.

Maybe as soon as tomorrow.

37 thoughts on “SC Senate votes 37-3, without hesitation, to remove Confederate flag — no amendments, no conditions

  1. Scout

    So as I understand it – this was a 2nd reading and vote. The senate has to vote one more time on it tomorrow and then the house will get it on Wednesday. Lee Bright, Harvey Peeler, and Verdin were the no votes. Something I read said the House could be more challenging.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yep. While you were commenting, I was adding some of those points to the post.

      As for the House — it’s a question mark at the moment. The weird thing is, normally the Senate is by FAR the harder sell. But the House has a whole lot more members from narrow little districts that can pull individual members in some extreme directions.

      I wish I knew what Jay Lucas was planning…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oops — but I hadn’t mentioned about third reading. I thought I had, but that was on Facebook and Twitter.

        Yes, it’s expected to be perfunctory. Third reading normally IS. Of course, nothing is normal today…

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        Well, Pinckney was a Senator–though he was a Representative before then, but his death was not so immediate to the House members…

      3. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yes, you’re right. And senatorial courtesy is always a huge factor. When you increase that exponentially with friendship, deep personal respect and tragedy, that impulse goes through the roof.

        And more than one senator mentioned the example of grace by the victims’ families.

        Still, this is extraordinary for a body that has been so dysfunctional to come together like this on an issue that was seen as untouchable three weeks ago.

  2. bud

    Does anyone have the exact wording of the bill? If this passes (which appears likely) how will the flag come down? Will some low-level staffer just haul it down and drive it to the museum or will there be a formal ceremony? What about the poll? Will the NAACP boycott end the day the flag comes down? Seems like the small issues could after important ramifications if not handled delicately.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Folks, I’d write a lot more tonight, but Cindi Scoppe has asked me to contribute a piece to The State and I need to get home and write it — she needs it in the morning.

    I’ll be back…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That doesn’t GUARANTEE that you’ll see something in The State from me — I’m not sure I’ll write anything I’m happy with, and The State NEVER promises in advance to run something. That was always my policy, anyway, and I’m pretty sure Cindi adheres to it…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Just talked with Cindi and I MIGHT write for later in the week instead. But I’m going to take a shot at something tonight anyway.

      The thing is, I never knew exactly what I was going to say in a column until I wrote it. So I’m going to start writing tonight to see where it goes, and if it feels like I should hold off and write something maybe after the House acts, I’ll do that. But I’m going to take a shot at it now.

      It’s kind of an organic process. I used to tell people SORT OF what I planned to write, but they knew that it might be wildly different by the time they saw it. Sometimes I had even changed position after realizing the one I started out with was untenable.

      Cindi understands…

    3. Brad Warthen

      By the way, Cindi gave me a complex, thoughtful, lucid and informative lecture as to why the House CAN’T act as soon as tomorrow.

      And I paid as much attention as I usually do, nodding, nodding, and waiting for her to tell me when they WILL act.

      In other words, I can’t tell you what all she said.

      Cut to the chase: What am I signing, Radar?

    4. Brad Warthen Post author

      DANG but it’s hard writing for a finite medium again. I mean, not really, not technically, but when you really want to say certain things that you care deeply about, and you think this is your one shot… it’s harder.

      I’m really torn, now that I’ve let the piece go, over the decisions I made — the things I had to leave out entirely, and the things I left in without what I consider to be sufficient explanation…

      When I was at the paper, and expected to BE at the paper for the rest of my working life, it was easier to let things go, because there was always the next day. It was an ongoing conversation, not a one-off. In fact, if not for that, I wouldn’t have been able to let columns and editorials go at all.

      But this time, I was able to do it finally because I DO have the blog…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        If not for that “I get to do it again tomorrow” thing, I would have been paralyzed as an editor, both in news and editorial.

        If you’re as obsessive as I am, you have a problem with the fact that you can NEVER get the whole story in the paper today. You get everything you can, you make it make as much sense as you can, you meet your deadline, and you start thinking about the NEXT day, when you can get the rest of the story, or as much as you can get that day…

        You ever see the Michael Keaton film, “The Paper?” There was a scene in which the horrible managing editor, played by Glenn Close, puts forward a really sick, twisted version of this principle: “We taint them today, we make them look good on Saturday. Everybody’s happy.”

        I’ve never met an editor who would do what SHE was willing to do: Go ahead and get it WRONG today, and not care because you could set it straight tomorrow.

        But she was expressing a perverted variation on a real theme…

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Miz Dubs posted a rather unreal but appealing photo of you on Facebook, with bowtie, but no specs. If you Photoshop the specs in, use it!

              1. Brad Warthen

                Cindi’s using that one in the paper.

                She’s using the selfie I shot with my phone that same day, with glasses (the one I use on Twitter), with the online version… Which should be up at 9. Not as flattering, but it’s got the State House in the background.

                The one the ladies are all going wild over was taken from the top of the steps of the State House, looking up Main Street. I was standing between two pillars. I was professionally lit, and shot, by Rick Smoak.

                I’ll give you a link to it, but please, ladies — form an orderly queue. You’ll all get a look, I assure you…

  4. Tim O'Keefe

    I just want to say thanks for keeping so many of us up to date. I have a link to your blog on my blogscroll. I always appreciate your pint of view.

    I moved to SC in 1986. While I am not a native, I AM a South Carolinian. I have never been prouder of my state.

  5. Mark Stewart

    I think we all owe the Senate a sincere thank you for voting with courage and conviction to resolve this blight.

    I’m not even going to hold it against the three hidebound holdouts.

    I am, however, interested to know who the six who didn’t show up are? And then, of course as it is supposed to be summer for the legislature, why they didn’t show up. Out of the country on family vacation? That gets a free pass. Too yellow to stand for a voice vote? Those should receive a full serving of derision from the electorate.

    Stand and be counted.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Some were there earlier and had left by time of the vote. In a couple of cases, it seemed the clerk didn’t know they were gone until he got to them.

      Sorry, but the only names I was keeping track of was the “nos.” Simultaneously, I was counting the “yeses” on my fingers…

    2. Mark Stewart

      Wow, that was a whopper of an error I made. Five Senators missed this vote. One was there in spirit, I hope.

      Absent: Cleary, Corbin, Gregory, Shane Martin, Massey. It looks like Cleary has missed all votes over the past three weeks; so that looks like it would be fair to give him a pass. And the other four?

  6. Lynn Teague

    Actually, Lee Bright wildly outdid himself this morning. It was really something to see and hear. Sorry you missed it.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Just out of curiosity, I’d be interested in seeing how much money Sen. Bright has raised off this issue.

      Is that sort of stuff public, this being America and whatnot?

    1. Barry

      His part about “Sure they were white supremacists, they didn’t have the examples we do today” was pitiful commentary.

      So apparently Senator Bright was saying the poor, black family man who loved his children and wife, who worked hard, but just happened to be a slave was a poor example?

      That reasoning is had to be like fingernails on a chalkboard to any black Senator.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      I don’t think he’s actually crazy. We don’t want to insult those with actual mental illnesses. I don’t think he sees things that aren’t there. I do believe his moral compass is broken, though. It’s stuck.


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