West Virginia House Democrats are calling on Republican leadership to act on proposed articles of impeachment against Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry.
In a release, the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee said “there is more than enough evidence to impeach.”
“Enough is enough,” said Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, Minority Chair of the Judiciary Committee. “We have been in Special Session looking at this for over five weeks and the evidence we have seen on Justice Loughry just confirms what was already found in three prior investigations.”
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart announced Tuesday that former Justice Menis Ketchum, who recently resigned, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud related to the personal use of state-owned vehicles and fuel cards.
“Despite a 23-count indictment,” Fleischauer said, “Justice Loughry doesn’t appear willing to do the same. Clearly, the Judiciary Committee should pass these articles of impeachment against Justice Loughry now and recommend the Senate impeach him.”
After investigating ethics complaints, the Judicial Investigation Commission (JIC) announced July 23 that three cases were closed against Justice Robin Jean Davis, Justice Beth Walker and Chief Justice Margaret L. Workman, and no disciplinary action would be taken.
But Fleischauer made it clear, if the committee chooses to continue its investigation into court conduct, nothing prevents the House Judiciary from proceeding with impeachment.
“This whole process has become very political and the judicial branch should always operate immune from political shenanigans,” said Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, House Judiciary Committee Minority Vice-Chair. “We have eight Articles of Impeachment — any one is sufficient for Justice Loughry’s removal.”
Fluharty said the power of choosing a Supreme Court Justice “should belong to the people of West Virginia, not politicians and lobbyists in a back room.”
The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office announced Tuesday that a special election will be held in November to fill the remainder of Ketchum’s term. House Democrats remain concerned, however, with timely action on Loughry to ensure a public vote if he is removed from office.
“Any attempt to take power away from the people and pack the court wreaks of the very corruption we are trying to stop,” Fluharty said.
Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, introduced House Resolution 4 during the regular session, Feb. 5 this year, to initiate an impeachment inquiry on Loughry.
“Here we are six months after I filed my resolution, more than a month after we convened this impeachment proceeding, and nothing has happened,” Pushkin said.
“Our concern always was that the House Republican Leadership would drag their feet, and try to pack the court with appointed justices, rather than having a court composed of justices voted on by our citizens. It turns out our fears were justified.”
Based on the evidence presented during the several days of testimony, the Legislative audits presented several months ago, the Judicial Investigation Commission report that led to Loughry’s suspension, Ketchum’s resignation and the federal grand jury indictments, the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee have prepared a resolution to immediately enact Articles of Impeachment against Loughry.
This article provided by NewsEdge.