S.C. Supremes vs. Illegal Gambling

By Paul Gable

The S.C. Supreme Court struck a blow against illegal gambling this week when it upheld 2006 convictions of five people who were arrested for the supposedly serious crime of playing penny ante poker in a private home in Mt. Pleasant.

Even better, the convictions were based on an 1802 law that a majority of the judges considered flawed and outdated.

Do 1802 laws still count in South Carolina? That’s 58 years before the state seceded from the Union and joined in armed rebellion against the federal government. That losing effort had to void something.

Chief Justice Jean Toal joined the 3-2 majority decision in the case with a concurring opinion that seemed to do anything but concur in sections. Toal was so concerned about the vagueness of the law and how outdated it is that she felt it necessary to uphold it in the end.

Attorney General Alan Wilson managed to take a break from his journeys around the state touting ethics reform to present the state’s case before the court. In a prepared statement after the decision, Wilson promised to continue ‘vigorously combating illegal gambling.’

Hey, this was a few guys playing small stakes poker in a private house in Mt. Pleasant, not Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel trying to turn Folly Beach into Atlantic City II.

The only person who seemed to understand what was really going on here was Justice Kaye Hearn whose dissenting opinion was right on the mark.

How much money did it cost the taxpayers to have the state’s attorney general appeal this case all the way to the S.C. Supreme Court and the Court to decide ‘the law is no good, but we’ll uphold it anyway?’

Don’t you people have some better way to earn your fat, taxpayer funded salaries like going on a taxpayer funded vacation or something?

Read the full decision: http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/opinions/HTMLFiles/SC/27197.pdf


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