This past Monday, 11 articles in West Virginia’s House of Delegates passed through impeaching all four Supreme Court justices. The judges consisted of two liberals, Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Robin Davis, and two conservatives, Justice Allen Loughry and Justice Beth Walker. Impeaching one judge is nearly impossible; impeaching an entire court is unthinkable. So how did we get here?
Local journalists uncovered the excessive spending of the justices, with each spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on office decor, furniture, and other nonessential items. They are also being charged with not holding each other accountable for their excessive spending as well as letting themselves get paid more than they are legally allowed.
Loughry had already been indicted for numerous counts of violating federal law, like misuse of state cars/credit cards for personal use, witness tampering, and misleading investigators. He has an October trial date set for his abuse of power. The legality of the other judges’ activities is still being determined, as West Virginia is unusual in letting its Supreme Court set and control their own budget. However, West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the country, so excessive spending from its Supreme Court is definitely not a good look.
Like everything else in American politics, the impeachment process has been divided on party lines. Democrats agree with the charges against Loughry, but say that the other judges were being unfairly treated and have called the process a “witch hunt.” West Virginia’s Republican governor Jim Justice would be the one picking the new judges, swinging the new court far to the right until at least 2020. Republicans rebutted by saying the judges lost the confidence of the West Virginia people, and that the impeachment process was simply to remove bad judges no matter the party distinction.
The State Senate is preparing their own battle as the articles for impeachment pass over to them. In the meantime, Davis has resigned from her position so her seat can go up for election in November instead of being filled by an immediate Republican replacement. Workman and Walker are still going forward into the Senate hearings.
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