The three remaining State Supreme Court Justices of West Virginia will face impeachment proceedings by the State Senate. Justices Beth Walker, Allen Loughry, and Margaret Workman will face charges of abuse of funds in office renovations (in excess of $3 million), overpaying lower court judges, and misusing state-issued fuel cards and vehicles.
Some of the expenses include $28,000 on rugs, $23,000 in design services, $16,000 for eight chairs, an $8,100 desk chair, and $17,000 for throw pillows. However, under the current West Virginia constitution, the Supreme Court sets and controls its own budget. There is an amendment proposed for the November ballot to give the legislature more budgetary control (Star Telegram)
Former Justice Robin Davis resigned Monday instead of facing impeachment. She accused the GOP majority of creating a ploy to stack the court with hand-picked judges. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
“Preconceived, adult-driven mania among the majority party members in the Legislature cannot result in a just and fair outcome,” she said. “I have always placed my faith in the people of West Virginia. I return that faith to the people of West Virginia today.”
Delegate Chad Lovejoy (D) has said that, while the purchases were extravagant, they were not illegal. He believes the mass impeachments are unwarranted.
“It’s unprecedented in the United States that one branch of the government goes in and lops off another,” he said.New York Times
A fifth justice, Menis Ketchum, resigned in late July and agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of wire fraud for improperly using a state fuel card and using a state-issued vehicle on two golfing trips (The Intelligencer).
The seats that were vacated before the end of Tuesday will go to special election to fill. If the senate decides to remove the other three, Governor Jim Justice will be able to appoint his own picks to serve until the 2020 elections.
Prior to 2016 the Supreme Court elections were partisan. Workman, Davis, and Ketchum were elected as Democrats. Loughry was elected as a Republican. Walker, also a Republican, was elected in 2016 after the elections became non-partisan.
Governor Justice switched from Republican to Democrat to enter the 2016 race against Republican Bill Cole. Within months of serving he announced that he was switching back to Republican at a Trump rally where he confirmed support for the president. He had never held public office before being elected Governor.