For several years, the West Virginia Supreme Court was one major reason this state was labeled a "judicial hellhole." Some justices were guided by politics, not the state constitution. The court issued several rulings that amounted to legislation from the bench.
In going beyond its constitutional role, the court made it more difficult to create and maintain jobs in our state.
That should never be allowed to happen again. Democrats voting in the May 8 primary election can guard against it in casting their ballots for nominees for the two high court positions to be filled this year.
Incumbent Justice Robin Jean Davis and Circuit Judge James J. "Jim" Rowe clearly are the two best candidates in a crowded field of Democrats seeking the nominations.
Rowe's service as a circuit judge since 1997 in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties gives him a quality some Supreme Court candidates lack - experience on the bench. He has achieved a record there of fairness and knowledge of the law.
Before becoming a judge, Rowe served five terms in the House of Delegates. There he learned Supreme Court rulings cannot be viewed in isolation, but must be reached in the greater context of how they will affect state residents in the future.
Supreme Court justices must not overstep their authority under the state constitution - and should be concerned about the effects their decisions have on the state's economy, Rowe believes.
Davis already has served more than 15 years on the state's highest court - and has lived up to the highest expectations of her earliest supporters.
Having witnessed and, for a time, had to endure a court made dysfunctional by a few ultra-political members, Davis has refused to allow ideology to guide her. Instead, her opinions have been based solidly on the law and the state constitution.
While rejecting the improper type of activism that once characterized the court, Davis has used her concern and influence to address social concerns. Among them has been truancy, against which she and judges throughout the state have mounted an effective campaign.
During the closing days of the primary election campaign, voters will be bombarded by expensive advertising campaigns on behalf of a few well-financed candidates. Name recognition will be the goal of those efforts. But when the time comes to cast ballots, voters should recognize ability, experience and dedication to doing what is right for West Virginia - the qualities shared by Davis and Rowe.
Rowe and Davis clearly stand above other candidates for the Democrat nominations for West Virginia Supreme Court. The News and Sentinel endorses both, and urges Democrats to vote for them on May 8.