Sweeping replacement of high court’s members by governor could happen soon

The jury is going to be out for a long time on whether the cure is worse than the disease.

That is, in the surreal unraveling of our state’s highest court the concern now is what’s next.

Two state Supreme Court justices have resigned — one after being impeached. Another is suspended and is facing 25 criminal charges, who along with the remaining two were also recently impeached.

All three of those justices now face a September trial in the state Senate.

Judging by the scope of this historic chain of events all five justices may be history themselves, shortly.

In the case of the two who resigned, voters will choose their successors Nov. 6. At least nine candidates have filed for those seats. The filing deadline is midnight Tuesday.

But since that special election is months away, the governor is seeking to fill those vacancies temporarily.

He recently announced the state’s Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission has begun the process to fill the seats of the justices who have resigned.

Oddly, the acting chief justice, who will preside over the trial of the three remaining justices, was appointed by the actual chief justice, who was impeached Monday.

The acting chief justice’s status will hinge on the Senate trial’s outcome. If the actual chief justice is acquitted, that acting justice will serve at her discretion.

If the three justices on trial in the Senate are convicted, that would give the governor a green light to appoint all five justices of this court.

Though we lost track of the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission some time ago, the governor recently pointed its existence out to us.

In an editorial this month we called on him to form a bipartisan panel to make recommendations to fill vacancies on the high court.

He responded that was a good idea, but a little late. Such a panel has existed since 2010.

However, the panel we envisioned did not provide for the governor to appoint eight of its 11 members. The other three are ex-officio members, including Gov. Jim Justice himself.

True, since this panel’s members are appointed to six-year terms some were probably appointed by the former governor.

Yet, we are curious about who this commission’s members even are, which we have yet to discover.

Temporary appointments and years-long appointments, and Senate trials and federal criminal trials, amid an election, oh my.

It’s unsure if everyone is ready to accept the consequences of what’s wrong with our state’s judiciary.

But it certainly looks like we are all going to have to take our medicine, soon.

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