CHARLESTON \u2014 Over the course of a long and contentious Monday, the House of Delegates approved articles of impeachment against four justices of the state Supreme Court. Debate continued after midnight as state lawmakers weighed more allegations.\r\n\r\nDelegates voted to impeach Justice Allen Loughry \u2014 who faces 23 federal charges \u2014and Justice Robin Davis on several articles, including their overspending on office renovations.\r\n\r\nLoughry, Davis and Margaret Workman were all named in impeachment articles claiming they skirted state law to pay senior status circuit judges more than they were entitled to be paid during fill-in stints.\r\n\r\nShortly before midnight, Justice Beth Walker was included with her other three colleagues on impeachment articles claiming lack of oversight.\r\n\r\n\u201cThis is a sad day. There\u2019s no cause for anyone to celebrate. But it is our duty. I think the public demands it,\u201d said House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer.\r\n\r\nTaking note of the momentous occasion, Shott added, \u201cWe\u2019re basically plowing new ground. Justices have never been impeached before.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe state Constitution gives delegates the power of impeachment, but only a trial in the Senate would actually remove justices from office.\r\n\r\nThe only justice who wasn\u2019t under consideration for impeachment was Menis Ketchum, spared because he submitted his resignation the day before proceedings began.\r\n\r\nThe rest of the justices were accused of crossing the line on a variety of items. West Virginia\u2019s Constitution allows for any officer of the state to be impeached for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty, or any high crime or misdemeanor.\r\n\r\nImpeachment is so rare that delegates have had to work through some of those definitions and how the accusations against the justices apply.\r\n\r\nDelegate Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell, suggested some of the articles went past the Legislature\u2019s authority. \u201cI\u2019ve settled on a line I learned a long time ago, and that\u2019s lying, cheating and stealing,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nLovejoy contended what the Legislature actions are unprecedented and might violate the separation of powers clause of the Constitution.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen we go in and eliminate four of them based on inappropriate spending, make no mistake we are eliminating a separate branch of government,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nThe areas of greatest agreement Monday were accusations that Loughry used his office for personal gain. He was accused of taking home an antique \u201cCass Gilbert\u201d desk, of having state computers at his home for personal use and of driving state vehicles for his personal travel.\r\n\r\nDelegates withdrew a separate article about Loughry\u2019s use of state funds to frame personal items for his office.\r\n\r\nEach of the justices was also accused of overspending on office renovations: $500,278.23 for Davis, $363,013.43 for Loughry, $130,654.55 for Walker and $111,035.19 for Workman.\r\n\r\nArticles that targeted Walker and Workman for expensive renovations on their offices did not go forward.\r\n\r\nThose articles brought division among the delegates. Democrats questioned where the line resides on such spending. They said allegations of wasting taxpayer dollars could be aimed at a variety of government expenditures.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re going down a bad road, folks,\u201d said Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Hardy. \u201cWe\u2019re going to have to start impeaching board of public works members to be consistent.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn the cases of Loughry and Davis, Republicans said their constituents were outraged and have demanded the court be held responsible.\r\n\r\nBut in the instances of Walker and Workman \u2013 who had less expensive renovation costs \u2013 enough Republicans were troubled about where to draw the line that they joined Democrats in defeating the articles.\r\n\r\nThe impeachment article involving Walker was voted down 51-44.\r\n\r\nOnce delegates made it clear they couldn\u2019t support that article, Chairman Shott moved to withdraw the article about Justice Workman\u2019s office spending. The motion passed, 56-39.\r\n\r\nMore division was clear over several articles contending the justices had signed off on skirting the law on payment of senior status circuit judges. The practice was meant to find a way to pay retired judges who reached a cap on what they were allowed to be paid as they filled in on the bench.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe court circumvented a law, which we passed, that allowed individuals to be paid more than they were entitled to receive,\u201d Shott said. \u201cIs the test of whether you should violate a law whether you\u2019ve got a good reason?\u201d\r\n\r\nDemocrats argued that such judges are necessary to keep the court system running.\r\n\r\nDelegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, argued against the article, calling its application ambiguous.\r\n\r\n\u201cI do not think this is clearly illegal,\u201d Fleischauer said. \u201cI disagree that this is a valid article of impeachment. I think it\u2019s confusing and I don\u2019t think we should be impeaching people over something that\u2019s confusing.\u201d\r\n\r\nEach of the articles dealing with the senior status judge payments eventually passed.\r\n\r\nThe West Virginia Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Monday saying the impeachment of Workman, Davis and Walker would go too far.\r\n\r\n\u201cMany members of the West Virginia Chamber have expressed their serious concerns that the allegations contained in the Articles of Impeachment against Justices Davis, Workman and Walker appear to be subjective,\u201d Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts wrote.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe impeachment of an elected official must be considered only as a last resort, and only upon meeting the highest Constitutional standards.\r\n\r\nThe West Virginia AFL-CIO sent out a memo in agreement:\r\n\r\n\u201cWhile Labor and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce don\u2019t often agree, today we do on the issue of House impeachment proceedings and we would like to add our voice to theirs. We agree that the impeachment process for Justices\u2019 Davis, Workman and Walker is not the right avenue to proceed and doing so has the potential to set an unwelcome precedent in our state.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe articles will be weighed by state Senators during a trial to determine if the justices should be removed from office. Doing so would require a two-thirds majority vote.\r\n\r\nOne significant issue is that the Constitution says the chief justice \u2014 or another judge designated by the court \u2014 would preside over the trial. Last week, Chief Justice Workman named Cabell Circuit Judge Paul Farrell to fill in on the court during Loughry\u2019s suspension. The order she signed designates Farrell as the justice who would preside over a Senate trial if necessary.\r\n\r\nWalker objected to Farrell\u2019s ascension, while Davis agreed with Workman.\r\n\r\nIf the Senate votes to remove justices from office, Gov. Jim Justice would fill the vacancies through appointment with the guidance of the state Judicial Vacancies Commission.