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Senators Propose Amending Constitution to Require Confirmations for W.Va. Supreme Court Appointments

Office of Gov. Jim Justice
In this Aug. 25, 2018 file photo, Gov. Jim Justice announces the appointment of Congressman Evan Jenkins and former House Speaker Tim Armstead to fill vacancies on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

A resolution introduced in the West Virginia Senate seeks to require that the Legislature’s upper chamber confirm Supreme Court appointments made by the governor. The proposal comes following a year of scandal surrounding the state’s high court, which lead to three appointments by the goveror.

Senate Joint Resolution 8 was introduced Monday and referred to the chamber’s Judiciary Committee. Republican Patricia Rucker is the lead sponsor of the resolution.

If approved by a two-thirds majority of both the Senate and House, the measure would be left in the hands of the general public to decide whether to amend the state constitution. State code outlines the process by which the governor can fill vacancies on the court.

Last year, Gov. Jim Justice appointed two high-profile Republicans to the court after Menis Ketchum and Robin Davis resigned in the midst of a scandal involving court spending.

Justice appointed former House Speaker Tim Armstead and former Congressman Evan Jenkins to fill those seats. In November, voters elected both to fill the remainder of the respective terms.

Justice also appointed Raleigh County Circuit Judge John Hutchison to fill the seat of former Justice Allen Loughry, who was convicted on federal charges in October. Hutchison will serve until a 2020 special election.

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