April 20, 2014

SC women rally for diversity in courts

The League of Women Voters in South Carolina will meet in Charleston Friday to discuss ways it can attract more diversity to the state’s courts. Conference organizer Constance Anastopoulo with the Charleston School of Law says it’s not about race or gender, it’s about quality.

We are looking at judicial selection in South Carolina, insuring independence and diversity on the bench. We are not advocating that women get on the bench, or African Americans get on the bench. We want to insure that we have the best quality candidates and independent candidates selected for judge-ships in South Carolina.

Anastopoulo says they want to look at a system that focuses more on independence than politics.

What we’re talking about is looking at statistically what does South Carolina look like and what does our judge-ship look like, and if you look at a state that is 48 percent male, and if you look at the statistical make-up of our judiciary, which is predominately white, and predominately male, it’s just not reflecting the diversity of our state.

Currently, South Carolina has only five out of 46 women Circuit Court judges, and 16 black judges out of 186 in the state.

We want a system that takes politics out of it. We want a non-partisan system that selects judges based on merit and quality of the individual.

Currently, the selection commission decide which candidates are qualified, then are elected by the state Legislature, which has the lowest percentage of female lawmakers in the nation. Anastopoulo says the idea is to get away from old antics and politics. Here’s what she’s looking for:

A system that looks at diversity, not for diversity’s sake, but looks at a field of candidates that is qualified, that takes that ‘Good Ole’ Boy’ reward for being a friend of a legislator. When you have a Legislature that is predominately white male and they are picking judges that reflect their own make-up, that’s our concern.

Anastopoulo is the wife of Judge Akim Anastopoulo, or “Extreme Akim,” who has his own court television reality show called “Eye for an Eye.”