Legislators have elected South Carolina's second black chief justice since Reconstruction.
Associate Justice Don Beatty will replace Chief Justice Costa Pleicones, who must retire Dec. 31 because he's reached the mandatory retirement age of 72. Beatty was the only person running to be the next chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The 64-year-old Beatty has been on the state's high court since 2007. His term as chief justice runs to July 2024.
Some Republicans sought another candidate. They criticized two of Beatty's opinions as "judicial overreach." But no one else applied for the job.
In 1994, Ernest Finney Jr. became South Carolina's first black chief justice since Reconstruction. He retired in 2000.
Beatty has also been nominated to be a federal judge.
Sen. Kevin Johnson, D-Manning, applauded Beatty's election.
"I am proud to have been able to support him," he said. "This is a historical day in the S.C. General Assembly."
Associate Justice John Few was also unanimously re-elected to his position on the state's highest court Wednesday.