CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The five acting Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court were faced with deciding whether two temporary appointments to the Court were valid.
Last month Governor Justice appointed Congressmen Evan Jenkins and former House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead to fill two openings on the high court, until election day when both men and 18 others are on the ballot. Attorneys opposed to the appointments petitioned the court to stop them.
“Mr. Jenkins, it is our position, can’t be on the ballot and can’t be appointed by the Governor. Mr. Amstead – it’s our position – because the House voted to instigate and initiate impeachment proceedings, against the entire Court. Thereby creating the vacancy, he can’t be appointed by the Governor.” said Teresa Toriseva, attorney for petitioner.
“The Governor is confident that his decision is well-founded in law and he believes we will prevail on these issues today,” said Brian Abraham, Chief Counsel for Gov. Justice.
Others argued the Governor simply picked two-fellow Republicans for the court, instead of those more qualified applicants.
“He should not have appointed Mr. Armstead, and I don’t believe she should have appointed Mr. Jenkins, because he was not qualified,” said Attorney Wayne King, Petitioner.
In the end, Jenkins and Armstead can be on the court, and on the ballot. Jenkins said quote: “Today’s decision is a victory for every West Virginian who’s ready to put a stop to the wasteful spending and misuse of taxpayer dollars. Everyone saw these bogus lawsuits for what they were, partisan attacks…”
“They’re asking for things to be read into the Constitution, the petitioners are,” said Brian Abraham, Chief Counsel for Gov. Justice.
The newly configured court is set to begin hearing cases next week.
Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on these temporary vacancies, voters will have the final say. That’s because both high court seats are on the ballot in November.