Brief filed detailing economic and small business harm from early ending of federal pandemic unemployment benefits in SC

Press Release


Marie Claire Tran-Leung
Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Frank Knapp Jr.
South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce

Columbia, SC, August 26, 2021—Today Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty for the South Carolina Supreme Court, approved the filing of an Amicus Brief supporting a challenge to a lower court ruling that affirmed the legality of the state ending early the federal unemployment insurance programs in South Carolina.

The Amicus Brief makes the argument that continuation of the federal unemployment benefits, which were ended two months early on June 26th, was in the public interest in general and in the interest of the state’s economy and small businesses specifically.

The Amicus Brief was filed by the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, the American Sustainable Business Council, and others.  Governor Henry McMaster and the Director of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, Daniel Ellzey, are the defendants in this appeal.  Marie Claire Tran-Leung of Shriver Center on Poverty Law led the effort in preparing the Amicus Brief.  South Carolina attorney Jack E. Cohoon of Burnette, Shutt & McDaniel serves as local counsel for the Amicus Brief.  South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center brought the lawsuit against the state’s actions and the appeal.

The Amicus Brief contends that:

–Unemployment insurance benefits support businesses by increasing consumer spending.
–Unemployment insurance benefits help employers and the labor market by supporting workers to
find the best matched positions.
–Terminating the CARES Act Benefits will jeopardize the ability of unemployed South Carolinians
to meet the basic needs of their families while they search for work amid the ongoing pandemic.
–The pandemic is not over and unemployed South Carolinians need support while the economy
slowly recovers.
–Prematurely cutting off unemployment insurance benefits does not encourage people to go back to

–Early termination will disproportionately harm workers of color, women, and their families.“The state was warned that eliminating federal unemployment benefits was a bad idea destined to fail,” said Frank Knapp Jr, president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.  “Not only has it not forced unemployed back in the workforce, it devalued the value of the self-employed who were shut out of other pandemic benefits and it actually hurt small businesses acro

The Amicus Brief asks the Court to not only declare that ending the federal unemployment benefits early was unlawful, but also asks that the Governor to reinstate the benefits possibly even retroactively.


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