Settling Governor’s Residence Question

The accusation by a legislator that West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is violating the state constitution is not over the most earth-shattering of issues. It involves no claim of dirty political tricks or misuse of taxpayers’ money.

In fact, Justice is quite open about the matter: He lives at his home in Lewisburg, not in the Governor’s Mansion. Justice insists that he is in Charleston when needed and modern communications make him available at all times.

Still, the constitution specifically requires that the governor and certain other state officials reside in the state capital.

Last year, House of Delegates member Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, filed a lawsuit over the matter. It was dismissed for technical reasons. Sponaugle has refiled it, and a hearing in Kanawha County Circuit Court is scheduled for next week.

The difficulty of enforcing any court order that Justice reside in Charleston has been pointed out. But this is an issue that needs to be decided in court.

Whether the constitution, applied to the modern day, means exactly what it says needs to be determined. If the answer to that is positive, the more troubling issue of whether Justice must be told to comply simply must be resolved.


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