Bill would expand lawmakers' choices for SC judges

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A House panel has advanced a bill allowing the Legislature to choose South Carolina's judges from among all candidates deemed qualified for the job.

The judiciary panel voted unanimously Thursday to no longer limit the Legislature to three candidates picked by a committee.

Judiciary Chairman Greg Delleney says the selection process gives the perception that an elite group is handpicking judges by preventing a vote on otherwise qualified candidates.

Legislators appoint the 10 members of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission. 6 of the 10 are legislators.

The bill by Democratic Rep. Leon Howard would keep the commission in place to continue screening candidates for qualifications.

Delleney says picking the top three is nice in theory, but it's very difficult when six may be qualified, with little difference between them.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.