If you read Saturday’s Mike Myer column, “Conspiracy Claim Ridiculous,” our local editor argues that any argument that there was a political component to impeachment of West Virginia Supreme Court justices is “ridiculous.”
His target is former WV Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis who, earlier this week, filed a federal lawsuit against the governor and legislators in an attempt to stop the trial against her. According to the West Virginia Record:
In her 40-page complaint, Davis claims the House had no legal basis for impeaching her or any of the other Justices.
What outraged Myer, however, was her suggestion that (as the Record further explains her point):
the House was not interested in investigating whether the facts warranted impeachment. Instead, it used these charges as a pretext to remove all four Justices on West Virginia’s highest court so that the Governor could replace the popularly elected Justices with Republican men and create a 'conservative court' for years to come.
Myer calls it "ridiculous" and claims that this is similar to the criticism of the Republican senators on the judiciary committee. (Huh? I have no idea what he means and Myer doesn’t explain the similarities.) And for good measure, Myer also tosses in a Hillary reference. (He obviously believes that it never hurts to include one):
Former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis says it’s all a vast, right-wing conspiracy.
Where have we heard that before? In 1998 and again in 2016, from Hillary Clinton.
But is it “ridiculous”? Last month's coverage by national media did not ignore or immediately dismiss the notion that this was conspiracy. See, for example, a widely-published New York Times article:
A Coup or a Couch? What’s Behind the Impeachment of West Virginia’s Supreme Court
Making an even stronger case is this article in Governing magazine:
State Supreme Courts Increasingly Face Partisan Impeachment Threats
It includes this analysis:
The allegations of criminal impropriety had been known for months, but legislators waited until last month to act -- missing a deadline to let voters, rather than the governor, fill any vacancies. (Justice Robin Davis resigned, rather than face an impeachment trial, to give voters a chance to pick her replacement.) Republican Gov. Jim Justice did little to assuage complaints of partisan meddling in the courts by appointing two politicians, state House Speaker Tim Armstead and Congressman Evan Jenkins, to interim posts on the court last week. It's not unheard of for sitting politicians to be appointed to court seats, but it's not the common practice.
(See also: The National Constitution Center and liberal sites like Mother Jones, and Think Progress.)
Mike Myer can call Davis’ claim “ridiculous”; the national media obviously saw it quite differently.
As a follow-up, today’s lead editorial in the Wheeling News-Register argues that our state senators must ensure that the impeached judges receive fair trials:
(I)t needs to be unequivocally clear that here, politics does not override justice.
Sorry, that train with Justice’s very partisan appointments of Republican politicians (with limited court experience) aboard left the station last month.