FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2017
CONTACT: Briley Hughes
Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina Supreme Court has issued a unanimous Order declining to adopt American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rule 8.4(g). There has been much controversy across the nation surrounding the proposed Rule of Professional Conduct. Extending the definition of discrimination to numerous new categories, Model Rule 8.4(g) sought to push states to conform with what the ABA considers new societal norms. As a result of the rule, South Carolina lawyers, and especially lawyers with sincere religious convictions, could have been exposed to discipline from the South Carolina Supreme Court for practicing or voicing their counter-cultural convictions on issues such as transgenderism, homosexuality, religious liberty and other similar social issues. The South Carolina Supreme Court became the first court in the nation to issue a formal, public, outright rejection of the proposed rule.
The decision follows the opinion of South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson on the rule. Attorney General Wilson, at the request of Representative John McCravy of Greenwood, SC, questioned the constitutionality of the ABA Model Rule. Both found the burden the ABA Model Rule placed on the First Amendment rights of lawyers to be overbearing and unnecessary. The Opinion was provided to the South Carolina Supreme Court and will likely be a sound resource to other states considering the same proposed rule.
Dr. Oran P. Smith, president of Palmetto Family Council, said of the opinion that “Palmetto Family and all its supporters would like to thank the South Carolina Supreme Court, Attorney General Alan Wilson and Representative John McCravy for their work to protect the religious liberty and First Amendment rights of South Carolina’s lawyers. Every person deserves fair legal representation without discrimination, but this rule would have placed a cloud over attorneys simply exercising their sincerely-held religious faith.”
Reese Boyd III, a Palmetto Family Board Member, and a practicing attorney at Davis & Boyd, LLC, said the Court’s decision “reflects the deeply felt convictions of many members of the Bar, who submitted public comments on the proposed Rule, and also the findings of the Bar’s House of Delegates and the S.C. Commission responsible for regulating lawyer conduct, both of whom weighed in with opposition to the Rule. As a Christian lawyer, I always seek to do what is best for my clients, but I also believe lawyers must have the freedom to practice law in a manner consistent with their heart-felt religious convictions, respecting the protections afforded all persons, including lawyers, by the First Amendment.”