West Virginia Supreme Court Impeachment Saga Continues as Governor Fills Two Seats

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Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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18 Responses

  1. I’m going to keep a copy of this handy to pull out and read on those days when I’m feeling that my own state government is dysfunctional…Report

  2. Democracy Dies in GOP-controlled states.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    It continues to be a slow motion train wreck.Report

  4. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    So… there are two issues/problems.

    First that the W-Virginia Supreme Court was corruptly spending public funds (to the point where Supreme law licenses are removed). That’s a problem bad enough that impeachment seems like the correct solution.

    2nd that there are politicians taking advantage of this. In other situations we’d call this court packing, but given the previous problem I’m reluctant to call it that.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Dark Matter says:

      You’re eliding the timing issues.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Road Scholar: You’re eliding the timing issues.

        We had Supremes get caught behaving badly, and the GOP is timing their removal to maximize benefit. I thought I’d covered that with “taking advantage”.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

          “For those conservatives with ears to hear, cynicism is the highest norm. What cannot be attained by argument nor evidence nor popular support shall be procured by pure power. And so it came to be that a world of norms and institutions was shattered, and conservatives stood upright in its wreckage.”Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Dark Matter says:

          So it’s okay then? Just within the normal parameters of power politics? And you would feel the same if the party affiliations were reversed?Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Road Scholar says:

            So it’s okay then?

            Of course not, but I’m cynical enough that I expect politicians to behave politically.

            Just within the normal parameters of power politics?

            “Supremes behaving badly” is, by itself, REALLY awful and well outside the normal parameters of power politics. Bad enough that submitting the problem to a grubby political process is probably the lesser evil.

            Needing to replace the entire court is an extreme corner case where misdeeds are expected, it’s up there with “Party X gets a super majority and the Presidency”.

            It’d be a seriously good thing if team red and team blue would play nice, even in the context of these corner cases, but we don’t know how to remove politics from politics.

            And you would feel the same if the party affiliations were reversed?

            “would”? There are plenty of states right now were the Dems have too much power and use it for bad ideas, including packing the court with “their” people. I try to not get spun up over bad ideas in States where I’m never going to live. Further, my impression is a lot of Southern states are basically banana republics at a state level.

            Big picture is I expect a number of states to go bankrupt in the next few decades because of long term political malpractice. I don’t know enough about W. Virginia to say whether they should be included in that expectation or whether this specific instance should be part of that. This could be an example of them digging their way out by removing bad judges, it could be an example of them digging further down by installing bad judges, it could even be both.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Road Scholar says:

        The timing issues don’t seem as important to me.

        Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Dec. 9, 2008, impeached on Jan. 9, 2009 (31 days from arrest) and removed by the upper chamber on Jan. 29, 2009 (51 days from arrest).

        Allen Loughry was arrested June 20, 2018, impeached on August 13, 2018 (54 days from arrest), and to be removed at some later date. If the legislature had moved as quickly as they had against Blago, they would have removed him three days before the deadline, but the WV legislature also had to deal with what to with all of the Justices. Seems like considering impeachment of the entire bench is a pretty big deal, which should take more time.

        Still, I would never vote to retain the House Speaker who orchestrated the impeachment process and benefited from it.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to PD Shaw says:

          I don’t understand this. It’s probably not you but me.

          The timing of the en masse (en banc?) impeachment correlates to a structural constraint determining whether those justices are elected or appointed by Da Gubna. It has been suggested by people within the process that the timing was orchestrated for just that purpose by a congress controlled by Republicans (two of whom are now appointed temp justices). How does a quick impeachment of Blago provide insights into WV Republican decision-making regarding when to file those articles? Seems like it, well, not begs the relevant questions but dismisses them entirely.Report

        • Avatar Em Carpenter in reply to PD Shaw says:

          News about the lavish spending first broke back in maybe November of 2017 and the investigation started into that then. Then they found out about the antique Cass Gilbert desk, belonging to the state, at his home. Dem Delegate Pushkin floated a bill in January calling for investigation and possible impeachment. The Republican leadership slapped him down hard, as indicated in the piece. By spring the court had been audited and the legislature knew everything. Still did nothing.
          Criminal charges didn’t come until June and July. If that’s why they waited, then why impeach the whole court and not just the two charged? If it was the spending, then why wait until mid-summer?
          It’s clear to me why. Especially with the House speaker now sitting in one of those seats.Report

        • One point to consider here, and Em can speak to it better than I can, but this current edition of the legislature has had issues with doing things procedurally. I don’t mean like strategy-I mean like just doing votes right, properly filling out paperwork, parliamentary procedure-the actual machinations of the legislature. It’s not a well run group at the moment on a functional level so some of it is just good old-fashioned incompetence. In fact, I have to look but they even managed to screw up the impeachment articles vote and have to fix that when they come back before they can start proceedings.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Thanks for the update. The GOP has lost its mind.Report

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