Following reports of lavish spending on office renovations in 2018, West Virginia’s House of Delegates voted to impeach all four sitting justices on the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals. One of the impeached justices, Margaret Workman, filed a lawsuit to stop her impeachment trial, arguing legislators overstepped their constitutional authority. A panel of acting justices agreed, holding the House’s impeachment vote was constitutionally and procedurally flawed, while stressing that its decision had no relevance as to whether the legislature has the power to impeach a justice, a power which is already laid out clearly in Article 4 of the state constitution.
Despite this, members of the WV Legislature claimed, falsely, that they’ve been stripped of their ability to impeach. Enter Constitutional Amendment No. 1. Last year, the House and state Senate successfully passed a joint resolution to create a constitutional amendment which would effectively cut loose future impeachment proceedings of the state legislature from all constitutional restraint. Amendment No. 1 would make it so that no court in the state could intervene to protect the right to a fair hearing of a public official facing impeachment, no matter how frivolous the charge or constitutionally flawed the process. In the hands of a partisan majority, this new power could be abused to oust political opponents without cause, thereby eroding existing checks and balances between the three branches of government and undercutting public trust in the political process.
Help us stop this dangerous power grab by the legislature. Use the toolkit below to submit a letter to the editor to your local paper on Amendment No. 1.