Government, News

Supreme Court votes to support legislative budget oversight amendment

CHARLESTON — Members of the state Supreme Court have voted to support constitutional Amendment 2, which gives the Legislature greater oversight over the judicial system’s finances.

The Supreme Court has been under intense scrutiny over the past year because of the expense of renovating individual justices’ offices and over other issues such as the use of state vehicles and working lunches that were ordered from higher-end restaurants.

The vote to support Amendment 2 occurred today during a regular administrative conference, Supreme Court spokeswoman Jennifer Bundy said.

She could not say which individual justices voted in favor of that support, only that it was a majority.

The court, as currently comprised, includes Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Justices Beth Walker, newly-appointed justices Tim Armstead and Evan Jenkins and acting Justice Paul Farrell, who is serving in place of suspended Allen Loughry.

Walker tweeted her confirmation of the vote and her support for the amendment.

Amendment 2, which will be on West Virginia ballots on Nov. 6, would provide constitutional authorization for the Legislature to reduce the budget of the state judiciary by up to 15 percent.

After a legislative audit hearing last April, Chief Justice Workman responded to reporters’ questions by saying she believes the judicial branch budget should remain independent.

“I don’t know that will occur. If it does occur and the Legislature takes over, we will cooperate,” Workman said then.

“I believe that judicial independence is so important, and so I think that’s a key component of it.”