Gov. Justice: Residency lawsuit should be expedited

Action in lawsuits often moves at the speed of molasses. One in Kanawha County Circuit Court ought to be resolved expeditiously, however.

West Virginia House of Delegates member Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, has been attempting since last summer to pursue a lawsuit against Gov. Jim Justice, over his residency. Last month, a judge rejected a motion that Sponaugle’s lawsuit be dismissed.

Justice makes no secret of the fact that he resides in Lewisburg; in fact, he flaunts it. But the state constitution requires the governor and other high-ranking state officials to reside in Charleston.

“The next phase in the case is to gather facts on where Jim Justice has resided since he became governor,” Sponaugle said. “The court will hear the facts then decide if Jim Justice has been faithfully abiding by his oath of office as governor or willfully ignoring it. I don’t believe he has been faithful to his oath of office, but time will tell. The facts won’t lie.”

No doubt the lawsuit is the last thing Justice, who is running for re-election next year, wants on his plate. But the issue is no mere technicality.

If the governor is free to disregard our state’s constitution, what else might he ignore? For that matter, what might lawmakers and bureaucrats decide they can get away with, if the constitution no longer applies.

Sponaugle’s lawsuit has ramifications for how state government operates — and it needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.