The South Carolina Supreme Court is the highest court in the State of South Carolina. The decisions of the Supreme Court is binding on the Court of Appeals and all lower state courts in South Carolina. The Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices who are elected to ten year terms by the General Assembly. However, the Justices continue in office until their successors are elected. Three Justices constitute a quorum for the purpose of transaction of business. The Chief Justice presides, and in his/her absence the senior Associate Justice shall preside. In all cases decided by the Supreme Court, the concurrence of three Justices is necessary for a reversal of the judgment of a lower court.
The Supreme Court has the power to issue writs or orders of injunction, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, and other original and remedial writs. In its appellate capacity, the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Circuit Court, which includes a sentence of death or a judgment involving a constitutional challenge to a state statute or local ordinance. On its own motion or a motion of a party or the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court may certify an appeal pending before the Court of Appeals for decision by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also reviews judgments of the Circuit Court and Family Court relating to post conviction relief actions by writ of certiorari. Finally, the Supreme Court can agree to answer questions of law certified to it by the highest court of another state or by a federal court.
All vacancies in the Supreme Court are filled by elections. However, if the unexpired term of the vacant post does not exceed one year such, vacancy may be filled by the Governor. When such a vacancy is filled, the new holder of the office shall serve only for the unexpired term of his predecessor.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the administrative head of the judicial system. The Chief Justice appoints the administrator of the courts and such assistants as he deems necessary to aid in the administration of the courts of the State. The Chief Justice shall set the terms of any court and shall have the power to assign any judge to sit in any court, provided that the terms set by the Chief Justice do not conflict with the terms set by the General Assembly. The Supreme Court shall make rules governing the administration of all the courts of the State. The Supreme Court shall make rules governing the practice and procedure in all such courts. The Supreme Court shall also have jurisdiction over the admission to the practice of law and the discipline of persons admitted. Finally, the Court may suspend a lawyer or judge who is incapacitated due to mental or physical condition.
All rules made by the Supreme Court must be submitted to the Judiciary Committee of each House of the General Assembly during a regular session. Such rules become effective ninety calendar days after submission unless disapproved by a concurrent resolution of the General Assembly.
South Carolina Court Website: http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/