Legislature elects to Supreme Court the guy who indicated how he might have ruled

Shortly after noon today, John Monk reported this:

To which I responded incredulously, “You mean, the guy who signaled how he would RULE?” John answered, “Yes that is who.”

Did you read John’s previous report about this?

Under questioning in a November hearing by Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, John Few, who is now chief judge of the S.C. Court of Appeals, compared the majority’s 3-2 opinion in what’s known as the Abbeville case with a newspaper editorial.

Although Few told Martin he might personally be “appalled” that children in rural schools aren’t getting a proper public school education, according to recently released transcripts, he elaborated, “If I were writing an editorial on the subject, I might say some of the very same things the Supreme Court said in their majority opinion.”

Few continued, “But when I’m writing a judicial opinion, I’m going to center my thinking on my role as a judge within the confines that are laid out for me in the constitution of South Carolina.”

At one point, Few told Martin he wanted to “tread carefully here … because this is a hot conversation here.”

In general, judges are not supposed to say how they would rule on a given case, and Few appeared to tip-toe through Martin’s questions, avoiding giving an obviously specific answer….

And well he might. Tip-toe, I mean.

So now, the guy who indicated — not said, but indicated — to lawmakers that he’s not the kind of guy to force them to do what so many really don’t want to do (give a fair shake to kids in poor, rural districts) will be our newest Supreme Court justice.

To bend way over and be charitable, we should consider that Mr. Few seems to be widely regarded as an able jurist, and perhaps lawmakers were simply more impressed by his credentials than those of his one remaining opponent.

But in a contest that was described as “a nail-biter until the final minutes,” after which “(s)ome lawmakers who voted for Few said they did so because they perceived he was the more conservative of the two,” one can be forgiven for wondering whether their motives were… less than pure…

3 thoughts on “Legislature elects to Supreme Court the guy who indicated how he might have ruled

  1. Bryan Caskey

    As a practicing member of the SC Bar, I think Few is an excellent choice for the high court. Actually, all the candidates were very good, and it was just a question of which good choice would be made.

    I can’t really find that much fault with what Judge Few said in your quote, there. It’s a pretty vanilla statement if you ask me.

    I’m interested in who will take his spot on the Court of Appeals. While the Supreme Court gets all the glory, the Court of Appeals does a great deal of work by comparison. For almost every case that I have, the Court of Appeals is the last stop, as the Supreme Court doesn’t often grant cert.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Few probably WILL do a fine job. I have no particular reason to think he won’t. By all accounts, he’s well qualified.

      I should be clearer…

      I’m less concerned with what Few said, precisely, than I am with what lawmakers THINK he said, and how it motivated them.

      Does that make sense?


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