South Carolina Supreme Court Will Hear Libertarian Case Over Nominations on April 24

On April 23, the South Carolina Supreme Court agreed to hear South Carolina Libertarian Party v South Carolina State Election Commission, 2014-000775. The hearing will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 24.

The issue is the validity and meaning of SB 2, passed in 2013. It says that if parties want to nominate by convention, they must put that idea to a vote at the party’s primary. The legislature seemed to forget that all of South Carolina’s ballot-qualified parties already nominate by convention. Last year, the South Carolina Libertarian Party had asked the Election Commission to hold a primary for the party in 2014, but the Election Commission said that is too much work. The Attorney General then wrote an opinion saying obviously the 2013 bill was never intended to apply to parties that normally already nominate by convention.

A side issue is whether SB 2 is valid, given that the bill says it won’t go into effect until the U.S. Justice Department pre-clears the bill. A few weeks after the bill was signed into law, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Shelby County, Alabama v Holder, knocking out part of the federal Voting Rights Act, so the state then didn’t bother to ask for pre-clearance. However, under the literal language of the bill, the bill isn’t in effect, but the state is enforcing it.

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