The Supreme Court is located in Columbia. Until 1971, the court operated in a portion of the State House. In that year, the old Columbia Post Office, which had been purchased by the State in 1966, was reopened as the Supreme Court Building. Among the substantial modifications to the building was construction of an impressive courtroom, decorated with the seal of the Supreme Court and other symbols of our South Carolina heritage. The building was renovated again in 1991.
Primarily the Supreme Court is an appellate court, which means that it reviews rulings of law reached by lower courts at trial or on appeal from other tribunals and agencies. A matter on appeal to the Supreme Court may be orally argued or decided simply on the briefs submitted by attorneys for each side. On occasion, a third party is permitted to submit a brief as a "friend of the Court" (amicus curiae) to allow the Court to receive additional views and information.
Members of the Supreme Court prepare to hear arguments by studying the case record and briefs of the parties. One member of the Court will be assigned to prepare an opinion which is then considered in turn by the remaining Justices. If a majority concurs in the opinion, it will then be filed and published. Justices who disagree with the majority often write dissenting opinions which are also published along with the holding of the Court. The decisions of the South Carolina Supreme Court are printed in permanent form in volumes called the South Carolina Reports, which are found in law libraries throughout the State and which record our legal history back to the 1790s.