Justice: Residency lawsuit must be decided

No thoughtful judge or appeals court justice wants to become involved in a confrontation with a governor. It is understandable, then, that Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King is not delighted about a lawsuit he must handle.

Filed by House of Delegates member Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, the suit is an attempt to require that Gov. Jim Justice reside in the governor’s mansion in Charleston. For much of the time, Justice resides in Lewisburg. He insists he is easily reached, and at the Capitol when needed.

However, the state Constitution requires that the governor and some other high-ranking state officials reside in Charleston. Sponaugle’s lawsuit is an attempt to require Justice to move into the governor’s mansion in the Capitol Complex.

Two previous attempts at the lawsuit have failed on what most people would call technical grounds. Now, Sponaugle is trying again.

Previously, King had expressed concern over one aspect of the case: how to enforce any order on where the governor must reside. Obviously, that could pose quite a challenge.

Still, the question of whether Justice is violating a provision of the constitution is important. It comes down to a simple decision on whether that basic rulebook for state government will be adhered to — or ignored. And, if the governor can ignore it, why should anyone else bother to follow it?

King has his work cut out for him.


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