Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Donald Trump wants to throw flag-burners in jail, but technically South Carolina has an old law that would do just that

S.C. law also protects the Confederate flag from desecration

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 4:26 PM

The Supreme Court of the United States has said that flag burning is constitutionally-protected free speech, but in the eyes of President-elect Donald Trump and the South Carolina Code of Laws, flag-burners could be thrown in jail.

After a nighttime tweetstorm that included reposting a 16-year old's hot take on CNN's political coverage, the president-elect posted at 7:55 a.m. that "there must be consequences" for burning the American flag, a long-debated form of political dissent. Trump suggested "loss of citizenship or year in jail" for offenders.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1989 that flag-burning is a protected form of speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution with opposition from liberal justices. At the time, nearly every state had laws criminalizing flag desecration. Some, including South Carolina, still do. South Carolina's law, last changed in 1962, prohibits acts that "publicly mutilate, deface, defile, defy, jeer at, trample upon or cast contempt, either by word or act" the flag. Violation carries a $100 fine or 30 days in jail plus a $50 penalty for each offense.

The South Carolina law is one of a few in the nation that also protect the Confederate flag from desecration.

The reason why a law that would not stand up in court remains on the books could be practical or political, says College of Charleston political science assistant professor Claire Wofford. The laws stick around until a legislator takes the initiative to repeal them, "so sometimes it's just easier to leave it on the books and ignore it," says Wofford. Or it could be more thought out than that. Wofford: "Sometimes legislators take a quiet (or not so quiet) pleasure in the symbolic rejecting of what SCOTUS has done."

The last time a Constitutional amendment prohibiting flag burning came before Congress a decade ago, South Carolina's entire delegation voted in favor of it (House, Senate). Congressman Jim Clyburn and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham are the only remaining members of that delegation.


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The Agenda: Leatherman won't become lt. gov.; Rural S.C. hospitals could close with Obamacare repeal

Hospital official on ACA repeal: "That would be catastrophic."

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 11:35 AM

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  • Flickr user armyengineersnorfolk

State Senate President Pro Tempore: "I will remain in the Senate" and avoid the state line of succession as Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster becomes governor with Gov. Nikki Haley's departure for the United Nations. Source: Florence Morning News

Amazon says it will close its North Charleston book-making fulfillment center, moving its operations to the Midlands. The closing does not apparently affect the company's local Createspace subsidiary. Source: P&C

Charleston state Sen. Marlon Kimpson wants the state to use $31.6 million in settlement money paid by Volkswagen for environmental mitigation to buy 300 new high-efficiency school buses. Source: P&C

County School Board Member Kate Darby has been elected chair of school board. Cindy Bohn Coats declined to run for re-election to the position. Source: P&C

Three South Carolina eel fishermen were arrested and charged with illegally harvesting and transporting elvers. The juvenile eels fetch top dollar in foreign markets. Source: P&C

The repeal of the Affordable Care Act could have dramatic effects on hospitals in the state, forcing more uninsured patients to seek care. Rural hospitals would be particularly affected and could resort to further cuts or closures. One Upstate hospital official on the repercussions if the ACA is repealed under the Trump administration without a replacement: "That would be catastrophic." Source: Greenville News

Charleston Currents columnist Andy Brack on McMaster: "Maybe now it will be a better day for South Carolina"

Jury selection continues today in Dylann Roof's capital trial for the Mother Emanuel killings. Federal District Judge Richard Gergel called Roof's decision to represent himself "unwise."

Michael Slager is testifying in his own defense today in the shooting death of Walter Scott. Watch live at charlestoncitypaper.com/live.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

Greenwood, S.C. man rides his horse to Miami and gets arrested for animal cruelty

"I was married. Had a truck … Got a divorce. Wrecked my truck."

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 2:29 PM

In a sequence straight out of a country music song, a man from Greenwood, S.C. has been arrested while riding his horse to the Florida Keys after he lost his wife and wrecked his truck.

On Wednesday last week, Chris Emerson was charged with animal cruelty in Miami after local media reported on the man's journey to South Florida from South Carolina on the back of an emaciated horse he called Trigger. A local rescue stable reports that the horse is tired, sore, and undernourished, but is being nursed back to health. Laurie Waggoner, leader of the South Florida SCPA told the Miami Herald that horses like Trigger can eat 25 pounds of food a day. Emerson reportedly only had some grass clippings on hand and appeared to be homeless himself, traveling without shoes and trying to use donations to feed himself and the horse.

Emerson apparently set off for a life in the Keys after things took a turn for the worse back home. "I was married. Had a truck … Got a divorce. Wrecked my truck," he said. But a few days before Thanksgiving and before he was arrested, Emerson found some solace in his long trip, "I rode a horse from South Carolina to Miami, Florida. The things I've seen between here and there are priceless. It's more than I've done in my whole entire life."

The SPCA posted on Thursday that Trigger, estimated to be about 20 years old, was enjoying "a very happy Thanksgiving." A man matching Chris Emerson's name and description remained in custody today, according to Miami-Dade County online records.

Cover photo from @HelptheHorses

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The Agenda: Emanuel AME trial resumes; Dabo says players deny using racial slurs; "Chaos" if Leatherman refuses promotion

Attorney representing those shot by police opening law firm

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 12:00 PM

The State columnist Cindi Scoppe: "Godspeed Gov. Haley; welcome Gov. McMaster"

Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks warns of "chaos" if Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman refuses to succeed Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster once he becomes governor as Haley leaves for the United Nations. Hicks: No matter what happens, Leatherman will not become lieutenant governor."

NYT Editorial Board on Trump's cabinet appointments thus far: "No experience, no problem"

The trials for Michael Slager and Dylann Roof continue today in Charleston with news that Roof will be representing himself in the death penalty case. Source: P&C, NYT, CP

State Rep. Justin Bamberg, an attorney by trade who has been representing families of those killed by police including Walter Scott's, is starting his own law firm. Source: Orangeburg Times and Democrat, P&C

20,000: The number of jobs created from contractor work and retail buying during last year's October floods. Source: P&C

At least one USC Gamecock player has accused an unnamed Clemson offensive lineman of using a racial slur against him during a confrontation before Saturday's rivalry game. Clemson's Dabo Swinney says his players have denied the accusations. Clemson shut down the Gamecocks, 56-7. Source: The State, Greenville News

Cover photo via @ClemsonFB.

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Dylann Roof to represent himself in federal trial

Jury selection resumes

Posted by Dustin Waters on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 10:34 AM

Dylann Roof - CHARLESTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Charleston County Sheriff's Office
  • Dylann Roof
Attorneys for Dylann Roof looked on Monday as the accused Emanuel AME Church shooter was allowed to represent himself in his federal death penalty trial.

The decision comes just days after U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel deemed Roof fit to stand trial following a court-ordered mental evaluation that delayed jury selection by several weeks. According to Gergel, the man accused of killing nine black parishioners during Bible study in June 2015 has the right to represent himself, although the judge deemed the decision “unwise.”

Wearing a gray-and-white striped prison jumpsuit, Roof looked on as potential jurors cycled in and out of the courtroom. Gergel led questioning, asking each candidate his or her feelings regarding the case, its racial component, and their thoughts regarding the death penalty.

Asked whether she had been exposed to any news articles related to the case since completing a questionnaire related to the trial, one potential juror replied, “I’ve seen headlines. I’ve tried not to read anything.”

Asked whether or not that momentary glance would affect her ability to be a fair and impartial juror, the woman responded that it would not. Asked if the race of the victims or race of the defendant would affect her ability to serve on the jury, the woman again swore that she could remain fair and impartial.

Gergel then excused the potential juror and asked attorneys for the prosecution if they had any reason to exclude her from the pool. They had no objections. The judge then offered the same opportunity to Roof, who leaned forward toward the microphone at the defense table and in a low mumble said, “No questions. No motions.”

The next potential juror was called to the stand. Citing an answer the potential juror had provided on the case-specific questionnaire, Gergel asked the woman about what she had written: “I’m sickened at the thought that someone could go into a church and murder people.”

The woman told the judge that she likes to think of herself as a person who could remove herself emotionally from the circumstances of the trial, but “It’s hard to take steps back from that ... I’m getting the chills right now thinking of someone doing that.”

Gergel excused the woman before announcing his desire to exclude the woman from serving on the jury due to her response. The prosecution opposed the judge’s decision to strike the potential juror, saying that she was merely being honest and acknowledging that this is an emotional case for all those involved. Gergel once again turned to Roof and asked if he objected to removing this particular juror from serving in the trial. He again leaned forward and answered no before scratching the juror’s number from the papers stacked in front of him.

Roof faces a 33-count federal indictment that includes hate crime charges. If found guilty, he faces the possibility of execution or life in prison without the possibility of release.

The questioning of potential jurors will continue until a group of 70 individuals is qualified. A final jury will be chosen from that group.

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