Obama nominates SC Justice Beatty to be federal judge

Source: John Monk/The State

President Obama on Thursday nominated S.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Don Beatty and Spartanburg attorney Donald Coggins Jr. to be federal judges in South Carolina.

The nominations are the result of an agreement between Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is backing Coggins, and Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who is backing Beatty, according to numerous legal and political sources.

Beatty has signaled he would run for the S.C. chief justice post in a May election in the General Assembly. He is next in seniority on the court behind the current chief, Costa Plecoines, who will retire at the end of this year. But others may run as well, according to some GOP legislators. Filing for the seat ends at noon March 7.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, an expert in federal judicial selection, said Thursday that, given that about 10 judicial nominations are ahead of Beatty and Coggins in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is by no means certain that Beatty and Coggins could be confirmed by the full U.S. Senate by May. But if Graham and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., supported the nominations, Beatty and Coggins could be confirmed later this year, Tobias said.