SC founding father at center of US Supreme Court elections case

One of South Carolina’s early governors – and one of the nation’s most controversial founding fathers – is taking center stage in a critical U.S. Supreme Court case this week that could fundamentally alter the control of federal congressional elections.

Nearly 200 years after the death of Charles Pinckney, who was among four South Carolina signers of the U.S. Constitution, a contentious legal theory has renewed a fierce historical debate surrounding Pinckney’s role in the establishment of the Constitution and American government.

A wealthy Charleston planter and slave owner, Pinckney (1757-1824) became political royalty in South Carolina, initially serving as governor from 1789-1792 and later elected to two more non-consecutive gubernatorial terms. He also served in the S.C. Legislature and U.S. House and Senate. His cousin from South Carolina was a fellow signer of the Constitution.

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Senior judges getting double dipping perk

Most South Carolina workers probably don’t receive big retirement checks from their employers at the same time they’re getting their regular pay.

But under state law, eligible senior judges can receive separate “retire-in-place” paychecks equal to 90% of their six-figure salaries.

And the law allows them – as well as other state and local public officials – to keep their public retirement income secret.

The Nerve this year has been highlighting the S.C. Judicial Department’s lack of transparency about judicial pay and other benefits. Last month, The Nerve revealed that more than 70 state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, circuit and family court judges in 2021 traveled to pricey resorts for conferences hosted by special-interest legal organizations that picked up part or all of the costs, though the trip records aren’t posted on the department’s website.

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SC Constitutional Amendments in 2022

S.C. voters in Tuesday’s general election easily approved constitutional amendments to increase the state’s two main “rainy-day” funds.

With all 46 counties reporting, the proposals to expand the General Reserve Fund (GRF) and Capital Reserve Fund (CRF) passed by about 62% of the vote, according to unofficial State Election Commission results. Of the more than 1.5 million total votes cast, at least 939,000 voters said “yes” to each amendment.

The South Carolina Policy Council – The Nerve’s parent organization – for months publicly supported passage of both amendments, partnering last week with Americans for Tax Reform, a national taxpayer advocacy group, in a series of statewide meetings with voters and the media.

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Drinks on the Beach

Last year, dozens of state judges attended one or more conferences at pricey resorts hosted by special-interest legal organizations that paid for all or part of their stays, The Nerve found in a review of court administration records.

Trip details involving the 77 S.C. Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, circuit and family court judges who traveled to in- or out-of-state conferences in 2021 aren’t published on the Judicial Department’s website. Neither are their annual salaries, which also are exempted from the state salary database for higher-paid agency employees.

Besides that, the judges, who are elected by the S.C. Legislature, by law don’t have to file yearly income-disclosure reports with the State Ethics Commission, which are required of most other elected officials and are posted on the commission’s website.

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Legislative Update in SC 10 2020

We would like to update you about the outcome of several important bills in the South Carolina General Assembly.

Article V Convention

In March of this year, the South Carolina General Assembly voted to open the U.S. Constitution to radical revisions that could obliterate the God-given freedoms that it guarantees. And the following month, Governor Henry McMaster enacted that radical measure.

H.3205, a joint resolution, followed the wording of Mark Meckler’s vaguely worded Convention of States Project, or COS Project, application urging Congress to call a convention to propose amendments “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

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Note: Neither the SC House nor the SC Senate versions of H5399 establishes legal recognition of Personhood for preborn children at fertilization, and therefore neither version provides for equal protection of the laws, and therefore neither version establishes Justice. The just course of action for the SC House and SC Senate to take is to pass the Personhood Act of SC (H5401 / S1335), not H5399.

On Tuesday, October 18 the SC Senate had the opportunity to either accept the SC House version of H5399 or to Insist on the Senate's version.

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TODAY, the South Carolina Senate will hold the most consequential pro-life vote in the history of the state. Currently, South Carolina allows abortions through 22 weeks gestation, accounting for a total of 6,279 abortions reported last year. Now, the South Carolina Senate has the chance to make history and protect unborn life from conception.

Call your state senator today and tell them to vote to “recede on the House version of H.5399” to protect life from conception in South Carolina! We’ve provided a call script for you, but we encourage you to personalize your message and make it your own.

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Uhaul Trucks 2022

In less than three months, Jeremy Sark’s U-Haul dealership on North Main Street in the city of Mauldin could close after nine years in operation.

But it’s not by choice.

Although his automotive repair shop, called Sarks Automotive, can stay open at the same location, a city zoning change would require him to move his U-Haul business to another part of the city of about 26,000 residents, located between Greenville and Simpsonville.

The current zoning ordinance, which the Mauldin City Council approved amending in January, would ban the rental or sale of “moving trucks, trailers, intermodal containers and temporary portable storage units” in areas not zoned “S-1” after Dec. 31 of this year. Sark’s U-Haul truck-and-trailer rental business currently is in a different zoning district.

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Businesses with deep pockets targeted in SC lawsuits

A longstanding South Carolina law can result in big verdicts against defendants in civil cases, with critics contending it often is used to target successful businesses that had relatively little fault.

Attention to the “joint-and-several” liability law has been heightened in recent months with a high-profile, wrongful-death case involving once-prominent Hampton County attorney Alex Murdaugh, who also is facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of his wife and son – part of an ongoing legal saga that has captivated the nation.

Critics say the state law, which was last amended in 2005, is unfair to businesses named as defendants in lawsuits because they can be required to pay entire verdicts even if they were far less than responsible for the alleged wrongs. Supporters contend the law was intended to allow plaintiffs to collect the full amount of awarded damages.

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For A Rainy Day

South Carolina voters in November will decide whether to approve constitutional amendments to increase the state’s two “rainy-day” funds, though a just-released poll casts doubt on their passage.

The statewide poll by the South Carolina Policy Council – The Nerve’s parent organization – found that a plurality of voters indicated general support for the proposals when explained in plain language.

But the total expressed support didn’t break the 50% mark and dropped noticeably when voters were given the exact text of the amendments as it will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

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SC State ESG 2022

South Carolina is among a group of states investigating a major investment management and ratings company for potential violations connected to liberal environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities, The Nerve has confirmed.

Last week, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that 18 other state attorneys general had joined his state’s investigation of Chicago-based Morningstar Inc. and its subsidiary, Sustainalytics.

“These ESG investing firms are playing politics with pensions and real people’s livelihoods,” Schmitt said in a prepared statement.

The release didn’t identify the 18 other states. In a written statement last week to The Nerve, Robert Kittle, spokesman for Republican S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, said the S.C. Attorney General’s Office “signed onto that,” though he declined further comment, citing the pending investigation and referring The Nerve to Schmitt’s release.

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BOISE, Idaho -- The Idaho Supreme Court ruled it will not block Idaho's abortion bans while legal challenges continue to play out.

The civil enforcement mechanism of Idaho's Heartbeat Law takes effect immediately with Idaho's Trigger Law set to take effect on August 25.

Stanton CEO and Founder, Brandi Swindell, states:

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Education Crisis in SC

More than a year after the federal government’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief plan became law, South Carolina’s public school districts have spent relatively little of their share of the money, state records show.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott believes lower-income parents nationwide should be able to use the unspent federal education dollars to help their children recover from learning losses resulting from the pandemic. That would include covering tuition at private schools under his bill introduced last week.

“States and school districts have only spent a fraction of the education funds they received through the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan – leaving kids helpless as they struggle to recover from academic setbacks,” the South Carolina Republican said in a prepared statement. “It’s clear that big-government bailouts won’t solve our education crisis.”

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Not Welcome Graphic

Editor’s Note: Today’s story is the second of two initial articles on short-term rentals in South Carolina. The other story can be found here.

For Graeme Moore, the city of Columbia’s proposal to effectively ban short-term rentals in residential areas is personal to him.

Moore, who operates a Columbia real estate firm, says he’s watching the debate closely because he owns a short-term rental house next to his Columbia home.

“A lot of people do this for primary income,” Moore told The Nerve when contacted recently. “That’s not why we do it necessarily, but it helps pay for the house.”

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Vacation Rental

Editor’s Note: The Nerve today is featuring the first of two initial stories on short-term rentals in South Carolina.

With South Carolina’s tourism season in full swing, many summer visitors are looking for short-term rentals through popular sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

As of May, there were 41,715 Airbnb or Vrbo available rentals in South Carolina, a 17% increase over the previous year and a 27% jump from May 2019, according to information provided to The Nerve by AirDNA, which tracks short-term rentals worldwide.

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McMaster Funding

"Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a resounding victory for the Constitution and for those who have worked for so many years to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. By the end of the day, we will file motions so that the Fetal Heartbeat Act will go into effect in South Carolina and immediately begin working with members of the General Assembly to determine the best solution for protecting the lives of unborn South Carolinians."

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