Beatty clears 1st step to becoming next SC chief justice

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The South Carolina Supreme Court’s senior associate justice has cleared the first hurdle to taking over the court’s top job.

The Judicial Merit Selection Commission said Thursday that Don Beatty of Spartanburg had been deemed qualified for the chief justice position. He is the only person running for the job.

Beatty would become South Carolina’s second black chief justice since Reconstruction. President Barack Obama has tapped him for a federal judge position, a nomination that’s still pending before a U.S. Senate committee.

State lawmakers will elect a new chief justice in May to replace Costa Pleicones. He must retire Dec. 31 after reaching the mandatory retirement of 72.

Beatty has been on the state’s high court since 2007. Legislators first elected him a circuit court judge in 1995.

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