Another vast right-wing conspiracy

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.

Give Davis credit for coming up with a new and improved version.

Davis has filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Jim Justice and state legislators, in an attempt to prevent the state Senate from trying her on impeachment charges. Davis and Justices Elizabeth Walker, Margaret Workman and Allen Loughry are to be tried in this month.

Davis resigned after the House of Delegates approved impeachment articles against her. State senators want to find her guilty on at least one of the four charges against her in order to disqualify her from ever holding any state office again.

Davis asked a federal judge for an injunction to stop her trial. She also wants the articles of impeachment to be invalidated.

She may have a point in part of her complaint to the federal court. In her filing, she says the Legislature is not giving her access to evidence and won’t let her cross-examine witnesses during her state Senate trial. If that’s true, lawmakers ought to change the rules.

No, it’s not a criminal proceeding, so rules for such cases don’t need to be followed. Still, fair is fair.

She is accused in four articles of impeachment. One alleges she wasted taxpayers’ money by having about $500,000 spent to remodel her office. Another accuses her of circumventing state law on how much retired judges called back for temporary service can be paid. Two others allege Davis (along with the other three) failed to establish court policies to prevent waste and fraud.

A key contention in Davis’ lawsuit would be laughable but for the fact it also was being used on the national political stage, against Republicans on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee who were trying to resolve allegations against federal Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Criticism of those lawmakers may have given Davis an idea.

In her petition to the court, she insists the whole impeachment process was “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.”

So it’s a vast, right-wing male conspiracy this time around.

And somehow, all those GOP men managed to spend half a million dollars on Davis’ office without her being able to prevent it? And they, not she, signed off on paying senior status judges more than the law permits? And they, not she, spent 11 years as a Supreme Court justice without putting financial safeguards in place?

Come on, now.

Davis also argues the articles of impeachment “are unsupported, invalid and do not warrant impeachment.”

The state constitution states impeachment is permissible “for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty or any high crime or misdemeanor.” Whether Davis’ behavior qualifies is up to the state Senate, not a federal judge.

Did the House of Delegates jump through all the appropriate hoops in passing articles of impeachment? Is the state Senate handling the trials properly? Who knows? It’s always possible a federal judge could order the articles against Davis be dropped on some technicality.

But her primary contention — the vast, right-wing male conspiracy –is ridiculous in view of one fact Davis neglected to mention: The high court post she vacated, along with one other resulting from the resignation of disgraced former Justice Menis Ketchum, will be filled in the Nov. 6 election.

Two of the candidates are women. Neither Justice nor Republican legislators can prevent them, instead of men, from being elected — if West Virginia voters of both parties and genders desire it.

So if it was a conspiracy, it certainly wasn’t a very well thought-out one.

Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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