Our Court, Our Vote: Our Judges Shouldn’t Be Chosen Behind Closed Doors

Our Court, Our Vote - Petition for Fair, Clean Judicial Elections


To: Governor Jim Justice and members of the WV Legislature

West Virginia founders entrusted the people to elect their judicial officers and thus any vacancy to our court should be filled by a vote of the people.

The current scandal sweeping the West Virginia Supreme Court makes West Virginian's justifiably outraged. We demand that the voters' voice is heard in electing any new judges in a clean and transparent judicial election.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle are seeking to restore trust in the court. But impeachment is at best a partial solution. Partisan interim appointments in a process that is behind closed doors from voters will only make our public trust in the courts and our democracy worse.

What's needed now, more than ever, is transparency with the voters of West Virginia, and that means allowing us to choose any new justices to sit on the court in open, transparent elections. To achieve this, the legislature should do the following:

•Give the voters a voice. Enact a special election to fill any additional vacancies on the bench that occur because of impeachment, conviction in the Senate, and removal from office.
•Ensure a transparent process. Our legislature needs to enact legislation that will shed light on the secret money that's being spent by special interests to influence the outcome of our judicial election/who ends up on the bench.

West Virginians understand the critical role that the judicial branch plays in our lives and our democracy. The current misspending by the court is absolutely unacceptable. However, our judges should not be chosen behind-closed-doors, in a partisan process by the Governor and a few big money donors. Voters have been afforded the right to vote for our justices and deserve to have their voice heard in a fair and clean election.

Moreover, we must pay attention not just to the money flowing out of the court, but the special-interest money flowing into our judicial elections. As officials entrusted with ensuring the quality of full, free, and fair elections, we expect you to be committed to these outcomes as well.

**your signature**

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