COLUMBIA, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — For the first time in 35 years, South Carolina could soon have an all-male Supreme Court. In days, the last of the female judges plans to retire due to age limits.

On Feb. 8, the South Carolina State Legislature will vote for a new judge to replace Justice Kaye Hearn, but it won’t be much competition. Only one man is in the race after two women dropped out.

“You know, [South Carolina] has always been a little slower getting there. But this is going the other way. This sets us back,” Senator Katrina Shealy (R-SC) said.

In 2013, South Carolina elected Shealy, a Lexington County resident, to work in the Senate. Out of her 45 colleagues, Shealy was the only woman. That was a fact for three years.

“It was always a little different being the only woman, but I found my voice now,” Shealy laughed. “So now that I’ve found my voice, I’m sure that they probably wish I hadn’t found my voice.”

In 2013, South Carolina elected Lexington County Rep. Katrina Shealy to work in the senate. Out of her 45 colleagues, Shealy was the only woman. That was a fact for three years. (Associated Press)

Now there are five women representing South Carolinians in the State Senate, and soon, no women could be representing South Carolinians on the state supreme court. Judges Stephanie McDonald and Aphrodite Konduros withdrew their candidacy for Justice Kaye Hearn’s seat, leaving Judge Gary Hill the only candidate for the job.

“They [Mcdonald and Konduros] said they didn’t feel like they were gonna have the votes,” Shealy said.

Palmetto State only state with no women on state court?

If the legislature elects Hill to the open seat, South Carolina will be the only state in the nation without a woman on their supreme court. For Shealy, that’s an unsettling fact.

“It’s always disappointing when you don’t have a choice in an election,” Shealy explained, “Women add a different look to decisions. They have different opinions. I think it, it just doesn’t, it doesn’t feel right.”

But the lack of female representation in South Carolina politics is obviously nothing new to Shealy.

“It’s hard for women to raise money, number one because people aren’t sure you’re going to win. Because they just they feel that way,” Shealy explained, “I had a lady ask me, ‘well, why don’t you run for school board? Honey, you know, you don’t need to run for senate. You should run for school board. This is not a place for women.’”

Despite the pushback, Shealy has broken through all barriers and hopes other women will continue the fight for more representation in the Palmetto State.

“Don’t come in thinking it’s going to be easy to get here because you’re going to have to work hard. I’ve fought really hard. But there’s a place for women in politics. Once you get here, you can see the difference you make in people’s lives. And nothing feels better than somebody telling you what a difference you made,” Shealy said.

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The South Carolina legislature was supposed to vote on the Supreme Court justice seat on Feb. 1, but the vote will happen next week.

Shealy said there’s a chance someone in the S.C. House could call for the slate to be re-opened, but it’s not clear if anyone is actually planning to do that.

QCN reached out to McDonald and Konduros for comment but didn’t hear back.

Judge Gary Hill sent QCN the following statement: “Judge Konduros and Judge McDonald are not only accomplished colleagues on the court of appeals, they are fine people and friends for whom I have great respect. I am honored and humbled by the tremendous support of the legislature. If elected, I will continue to serve the citizens of South Carolina with an unwavering commitment to the rule of law, as I have for nearly 20 years.”