The March 31st 2008 SC State Supreme Court Ruling

Or How Fucked Up Is Our Legal System

We, indeed, live in sad times when this State’s supreme court can completely ignore state law to the benefit of activist causes. I refer to their recent ruling upholding local smoking bans on private property despite state law pre-emption.

The reported ruling:

From the Greenville News: "Supporters of the [smoking ban] ordinance argued the section dealt only with the distribution of tobacco to minors. The justices agreed, ruling that (lower court Judge) Few had erred in finding that the section applied to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act instead of just the law dealing with minors."

From the Post and Courier (in Charleston): "The city claims that the ordinance is a proper exercise of municipal power because it seeks to protect citizens from secondhand smoke," Justice John Waller wrote. "We agree. ... While the state has legislated restrictions on smoking in certain areas, a civil ordinance which adds areas does not in any way conflict with state law."

How the ruling doesn’t make any sense:

This is the text in state law that they needed to consider:

  1. SECTION 16-17-504 Implementation; local laws.

  2. (A) Sections 16-17-500, 16-17-502, and 16-17-503 must be implemented in  an equitable and uniform manner throughout the State and enforced to ensure the eligibility for and receipt of federal funds or grants the State receives or may receive relating to the sections. Any laws, ordinances, or rules enacted pertaining to tobacco products may not supersede state law or regulation. Nothing herein shall affect the right of any person having ownership or otherwise controlling private property to allow or prohibit the use of tobacco products on such property.


  4. (B) Smoking ordinances in effect before the effective date of this act are exempt from the requirements of subsection A.

I think the language is pretty clear in opposition to their ruling, but lets pick it apart even more for those as blind as the Justices. Placement in state law aside, the above text clearly refers to “the USE OF tobacco products” and “SMOKING ordinances” – NOT distribution of tobacco to minors. Also coupled with the phrases “ANY laws, ordinances or rules” and “may not supersede state law or regulation” clearly denotes local governments cannot further prohibit “the USE OF tobacco products.”

Again, the key phrases:

“The use of tobacco products”

“Smoking Ordinances”

“Any laws, ordinances...”

“may not supersede state law or regulation”

This law has nothing to do with Minors and Tobacco distribution, everything to do with private property and the ACT of smoking on such.

And, of course, the “health scare”

Of course, the off-handed justification for their ruling is the absurd belief that ETS is somehow the most deadly substance on earth. Despite the common sense facts that we have over a century of exposure under our belts with nary an actual death certificate implicating ETS as the cause of death or the fact that the often repeated Ex-Surgeon General statement, “there is no safe level of second hand smoke”, would make ETS more deadly than arsenic, cyanide, uranium or any other highly toxic substance known in the universe; the question before the Justices was state law and only state law, not the health value of the law.

Judge John Few should be commended for rising above activist pressure and simply ruling on the law. The State Supreme Court should be ashamed for clearly allowing a social agenda to blind them to simple language. And any future lawsuits against smoking bans must address the fraud of ETS – because clearly even black and white law, let alone the South Carolina media, cannot protect our freedoms against the tyranny of “for our own good” - even if the “enemy” is ridiculous and false.

Read my original, unfiltered rant in “Bitch of the Month” - Click Here