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Black lawmakers protest judicial elections in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers have elected an attorney to the state Court of Appeals who has never been a judge, leading some black lawmakers to temporarily walk out of the chamber.

Members of the House and Senate in a joint session Feb. 2 voted 87-73 to put Conway lawyer Blake Hewitt on South Carolina’s second highest court.

Hewitt defeated Circuit Court Judge Alison Renee Lee of Columbia, who has been on the bench since 1999. Lee is black, and Hewitt is white.

Democratic Sen. Margie Bright Matthews of Walterboro said Hewitt’s election was partisan and sent a message that qualifications don’t count. Bright Matthews was surrounded by black House and Senate members.

Lawmakers were electing 44 judges on the Court of Appeals, Circuit Court and Family Court. Only two races were contested.

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