The South Carolina Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The court is composed of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices.[1][2]

Selection of justices

Judges are selected by the legislature of South Carolina to serve terms of ten years.[2][3] There is no prohibition against justices serving multiple terms on the court.[3] However, there is a mandatory retirement age of 72 for state trial judges and state appellate judges in South Carolina.[4]

Current justices of the court

JusticeBornJoined the courtCurrent term endsReaches age 72Law school
Donald W. Beatty, Chief Justice1952 (age 69–70)May 23, 2007 (as Associate Justice)
February 1, 2017 (as Chief)
20242024South Carolina
John W. Kittredge (1956-09-28) September 28, 1956 (age 65)August 1, 200820282028
Kaye Gorenflo Hearn (1950-01-30) January 30, 1950 (age 72)January 14, 201020222022
John Cannon Few (1963-04-09) April 9, 1963 (age 59)January 1, 201620262035
George C. James (1960-06-02) June 2, 1960 (age 62)February 201720302032


The court enjoys both original and appellate jurisdiction. It enjoys exclusive appellate jurisdiction for all state cases regarding the death penalty, state utility rates, judgments involving public bonded indebtedness and elections, and orders limiting state grand juries and relating to abortions by minors. Original jurisdiction pertains to the issuance writs including mandamus, certiorari, and very extraordinary bills.[5]

Additional charges of the court

The South Carolina Supreme Court oversees the admission of individuals to practice law in the state.[6] Much of the administration regarding admissions and practice is delegated to the South Carolina Bar, established by statute as an administrative arm of the court; however, the court retains ultimate authority in South Carolina governing the practice of law.[7] It also supervises the disciplining of attorneys and suspension of those no longer able to practice due to mental or physical condition.[8]


The Supreme Court of South Carolina Building is located in the state capital of Columbia. The court moved into its current location, a former United States Post Office building, in 1971.[10] It was built between 1917 and 1921, and is a two-story, Neo-Classical style building. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972.[11][12] Prior to 1971, the court met in a section of the South Carolina State House in an area totaling approximately 1,400 square feet (130 m2); the justices did not have individual offices, but instead met in a common conference room when not presiding over a session of court.[10]

Controversy arose in late 2007 after The State newspaper reported that the Supreme Court reversed the grades of 20 people who failed the South Carolina bar exam, including children of prominent attorneys, by voiding the results of the wills, trusts, and estates section of the exam.[13][14][15]

From 1930 to 2016, the South Carolina Supreme Court has had 17 Chief Justices.


  1. ^ S.C. Const. art. V, § 2 Archived 2009-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b S.C. Code Ann. § 14-3-10 Archived 2009-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b S.C. Const. art. V, § 3 Archived 2009-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ S.C. Code Ann. § 9-8-60(1) Archived 2009-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ S.C. Code Ann. § § 14-3-310 to -330 Archived 2009-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ S.C. Const. art. V, § 4 Archived 2009-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ S.C. Code Ann. § 40-5-20 Archived 2010-09-21 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ S.C. Code Ann. § 40-5-10[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  10. ^ a b Littlejohn, Bruce Littlejohn’s South Carolina Judicial History: 1930-2004, Joggling Board Press, Charleston, SC (2005).ISBN 0-9753498-6-4
  11. ^ Dollie McGrath (August 1971). “Supreme Court of South Carolina Building” (PDF). National Register of Historic Places – Nomination and Inventory. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  12. ^ “Supreme Court of South Carolina Building, Richland County (Gervais & Sumter Sts., Columbia)”. National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  13. ^ Monk, John (November 16, 2007). “S.C. Bar to court: Explain actions”. The State. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007.
  14. ^ Brundrett, Rick (December 2, 2007). “Supreme Court not off the hook”. The State. Columbia, South Carolina. Archived from the original on December 4, 2007.
  15. ^ Brundrett, Rick (January 26, 2008). “Toal says fairness drove decision”. The State. Archived from the original on January 29, 2008.

External links