The state's highest court questions a panel

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Supreme Court is considering if a panel dominated by lawmakers can declare judicial candidates unqualified.

The State newspaper reported justices heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit by Charleston Family Court Judge Frances Segars-Andrews.

She's asking the high court to overturn a screening committee's ruling she's no longer qualified.

Segars-Andrews has had the job since 1993, but the Judicial Merit Selection panel ruled last year she is unqualified for re-election.

Judges in South Carolina, including the Supreme Court, are elected by lawmakers. The 10-member review panel has six lawmakers.

Segars-Andrews says it's inappropriate for lawmakers to dominate the committee and then vote in judicial elections. An attorney for the panel says there's nothing wrong with the practice.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)