West Virginia’s constitutional crisis

Timothy Sandefur has been tracking (continued) the constitutional crisis unfolding in West Virginia, in which the legislature has impeached all of the Justices on the state’s supreme Court and the courts have struck back with a ruling refusing to recognize the legislature’s authority to impeach under such circumstances.


  • Wow.

    Arrest them.

    • “Arrest them.”

      I want to engage that comment, but I can’t tell who you want arrested for what.

      • Any justice refuting the will of the legislature to impeach should be arrested and charged with obstruction.

  • I’m pretty sure the legislature is going to win this argument.

  • This action is the model for States like Illinois where the Courts have arrogated to themselves tax & spending decisions that are clearly the Legislature’s responsibility. Once in a while extreme (but lawful) measures are in necessary to keep the balance between the three branches of Government.

  • Am I the only reader who is having trouble following the link to the actual decision, in Sandefur’s piece? I get a “site can’t be reached” screen.
    I cannot turn up a copy of the decision via Google, either. Has anyone?

    I did find this news article that has some additional explanation (with quoted text) of the perceived problems with the resolution of Impeachment and the procedures that were, or were not, followed.

    The decision seems to have been focused more on procedural error than denying that the legislature has the power and authority to impeach these justices. It just has to accomplish that in accordance with the relevant rules. At least, that’s the way I read this.

    From the article:
    “The opinion goes on to say that “fundamental fairness requires this Court to review what has happened in this state over the last several months when all of the procedural safeguards that are built into this system have not been followed. In this case, there has been a rush to judgment to get to a certain point without following all of the necessary rules. This case is not about whether or not a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia can or should be impeached; but rather it is about the fact that to do so, it must be done correctly and constitutionally with due process. We are a nation of laws and not of men, and the rule of law must be followed.”

    The opinion also laid out the six different ways the separation of powers is to work, and then noted that lawmakers “should not be dealing with the Code of Judicial conduct, which authority is limited to the Supreme Court of Appeals.”

  • Fyi, I found the opinion at a working link in an article in Slate. (it looks to me identical to the link in Sandefur’s piece, but … his still does not work????)
    Eureka! If you delete the “s” from the “https://” from the beginning of Sandefur’s link, it works. {{pats self on back}}


    Slate article: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/west-virginia-supreme-court-impeachment-constitutional-crisis.html

  • Oh, great. This sets a terrible precedent. I easily can imagine my state, among the most partisan in the country, saying, “Hey that’s a wonderful idea. Let’s just impeach the judges/executives/whoever we don’t like and put our friends or, even better, ourselves in an office with lifetime tenure” (unless you are in the minority). We are already owned lock, stock, and barrel by our elites.
    So I announce my intent to come riding in on my white stallion to admonish, “West Virginia, you should have nipped this in the bud.” But I will wear a mask lest any of the local “in crowd” recognize me.

    • “I easily can imagine my state, among the most partisan in the country, saying, “Hey that’s a wonderful idea. Let’s just impeach the judges/executives/whoever we don’t like and put our friends or, even better, ourselves in an office with lifetime tenure””

      1. State Supreme Court Justices generally do not have lifetime tenure.

      2. The West Virginia Supreme Court Justices were impeached for misappropriation of their official government budget. A perfectly legitimate reason for impeachment in my opinion.

      3. Nation wide, impeaching State Supreme Court Justices is not that unusual. The only thing new/unique from the legislative side in the current West Virginia mess is impeaching the entire court all at once.

  • The sole jurisdiction argument re: Code of Conduct doesn’t seem to work. The logical fallacy is that a violation of the Code of Conduct is also grounds for impeachment because it’s evidence that the judges did something they were not supposed to do. Wrongdoing is not immunized simply because it violates the Code of Conduct. Nor is the fact that the Legislature refers to the Code of Conduct relevant. (Think about it–does pointing out that a particular act violated the Code of Conduct bar Legislative action?) Whatever the judges did–it’s the act that counts, not the label (i.e., violated Code of Conduct) that counts.