Confusion in Trans-Allegheny

Well, that was what they called it before the Pro Slavery Insurrection when they defied the General Assembly’s Declaration of Secession and were rewarded with their own State in compensation. It was a proud moment and a high water mark for a region that has become progressively less…

Umm… progressive?

I hate that term as applied to politics because it’s simply a dodge by Institutional Liberals to co-op the Left into meaningless “Moderation” and disguise the taint Radical Conservatives placed on the word “Liberal”, an endeavor aided and abbetted by their own fecklessness and inaction.

Anyway, they’ve attempted to fire their entire Supreme Court for thwarting or delaying the Republican agenda because like, Laws duh. They tried beating them at the polls (I don’t know what the best system is for picking Judges but electing them is the worst). So the Legislature has accused the entire Bench of corruption (in some cases true, others not so much) and is going to impeach them all and pack the Court with compliant toadies.

In Constitutional terms the Article I branch is staging a coup against the Article III branch.

Fun times. Bring popcorn.

West Virginia botches impeachment of chief justice. Faces constitutional crisis. Stay tuned.
By Meagan Flynn, Washington Post
October 15, 2018

Now this is what you call a “constitutional crisis.”

On Monday morning, West Virginia’s chief justice was scheduled to go on trial before the state Senate for “lavish spending” on elaborate office renovations, among other ethics complaints. She faced removal from office by impeachment in the House.

But there will be no impeachment trial in the Senate for Margaret Workman on Monday — because her own Supreme Court of Appeals said it would be unconstitutional.

To be fair, it wasn’t the regular Supreme Court of Appeals, but a bunch of stand-ins, acting justices.

They ruled last week that despite the state constitution giving the power to impeach justices to the legislature, this particular impeachment was unconstitutional, a violation of separation of powers.

As a result, the justice who was to preside over the impeachment Monday got cold feet. He was a no-show.

So there will be no show Monday.

Instead, the legislators who wanted to impeach her and all the rest of the justices are scratching their heads, trying to figure out what to do next.

When this story last made national headlines, that headline was “The entire W.Va. Supreme Court faces impeachment for alleged corruption: Gas money, restaurant lunches, an antique desk.”

Workman was one of four sitting justices — the entire state Supreme Court — the House of Delegates voted to impeach in August. The fifth justice had resigned earlier, later pleading guilty to wire fraud.

The rest were each accused of “wasteful spending” with virtually no oversight. There was the notorious $32,000 blue-suede couch that Justice Allen Loughry bought with taxpayer money, and the $8,000 office chair that Justice Robin Davis needed for her back. There were the pricey lunches and seemingly unbridled travel budget and, in Loughry’s case, lies about his fraudulent mileage and gas reimbursements.

In Workman’s case, state auditors found that she spent $112,780 on her office spruce-up, including nearly $12,000 on cabinetry and $17,000 on fabrics and furniture reupholstery. Plus an $8,892 sofa, as WCHS reported in a 2017 investigation. Taken all together, her new office cost more than the average house in her state, as an editorial in the Intelligencer pointed out. She was also accused of authorizing excessive payments to senior status judges.

But in its ruling released Friday, the West Virginia Supreme Court halted the impeachment proceedings against Workman on various grounds, finding that, actually, the West Virginia Supreme Court could discipline a sitting judge only for violations of judicial ethics under the Code of Judicial Conduct, as opposed to actual crimes, high or low.

In addition to the separation of powers piece, the court said the House had forgotten one little thing: It didn’t include “findings of fact” with the articles of impeachment.

In an apparent dig at House leadership, Acting Chief Justice James A. Matish wrote that “our forefathers . . . had the forethought” to establish specific procedures in the constitution, but “what our forefathers did not envision is the fact that subsequent leaders would not have the ability or willingness to read, understand, or to follow those guidelines.

“The problem we have today is that people do not bother to read the rules,” Matish wrote, “or if they read them, they decide the rules do not apply to them.”

Flustered by the ruling by the acting Supreme Court justices, the Senate had initially said it would move forward with Workman’s impeachment proceedings anyway.

But the Senate changed its mind, said a spokeswoman for the Senate. The main problem: That justice who was scheduled to preside over the impeachment trial said the court order prohibited him from doing so.

In its brief to the Supreme Court, the Senate had argued that “to hold that the Legislature cannot consider the Code of Judicial Conduct in its deliberation of impeachment proceedings against a judicial officer would have the absurd result of prohibiting removal from office for any violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

But that argument “misses the point,” Matish wrote. The problem, he wrote, was that the House had based its impeachment articles for “wasteful spending” solely on the Code of Judicial Conduct, which only the West Virginia Supreme Court has the authority to impose. The Legislature, however, could have used findings from a Code of Judicial Conduct investigation as supporting evidence to bolster the articles of impeachment.