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Keep Justice Hutchison

Scandal embroiled the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2018. Three of its five justices stepped down. In appointing someone to succeed a justice convicted of multiple crimes, Gov. Jim Justice knew character was critical.

So the governor picked John Hutchison, who had served as a Raleigh County circuit court judge since 1995. Hutchison has proven he was the right choice.

Now, Hutchison is seeking a four-year term on the Supreme Court. He is running in the court’s Division 3 race on the June 9 election ballot.

Since joining the court, Hutchison has reinforced his reputation for high ethical standards — and for the transparency needed to know whether public officials adhere to them.

In contrast to the free-spending habits of some former justices, Hutchison has been a conscientious steward of taxpayers’ money. Working with the four other justices, he shaved spending to the point that the judicial system’s fiscal 2021 budget is a whopping $4 million less than five years ago.

Hutchison has called himself a “non-activist judge.” Justices should interpret the law and state constitution as they are, not as they want them to be, he believes.

A few weeks ago, he showed the courage to stand up for that belief, in a case involving the “right-to-work” law. Declaring in a written opinion that he believes labor unions have been good for West Virginians and that the law undermines unions, Hutchison nevertheless voted to uphold the statute. He could find nothing legally or constitutionally wrong with it, he wrote.

Hutchison did what West Virginians have a right to expect: He ruled as the law and state constitution dictate. That is what we elect Supreme Court justices to do.

We endorse Hutchison, then, and recommend that voters cast their ballots for him in Supreme Court Division 3.

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