Vote for Issue 2 On W.Va. Ballot
Purchases such as $32,000 for a couch, $114,000 for picture frames and $500,000 to remodel one justice’s office have made it clear more fiscal discipline is needed at the West Virginia Supreme Court.
Issue 2 on the Nov. 6 election ballot would provide some of it through an amendment to the state constitution.
Outrageous misuse of taxpayers’ money by the high court — millions of dollars, not just the examples cited above — has come to light during the past year. It was one reason why the House of Delegates voted to impeach all five men and women who served as justices earlier this year. Since then, two of them have resigned. A third, convicted of 11 federal criminal charges, probably will be removed.
West Virginia is the only state where the legislature does not have at least some control over the judicial branch budget. For many years, lawmakers concerned about separation of powers did not seek such oversight.
Now, however, the need is clear — so much so that the current state Supreme Court supports passage of the amendment.
Justices now serving on the court have pledged to be more responsible in how money is spent. Good. Still, giving the Legislature some authority over the purse strings is essential.
Lawmakers would not have absolute control if the amendment passes. It protects the court system with a provision that bans budget cuts greater than 15 percent of the judicial system’s prior-year budgets. Separation of powers is preserved.
We encourage Mountain State voters to cast ballots in favor of Amendment 2 in the Nov. 6 election. It has become obvious such a change is long overdue.