The West Virginia Senate gaveled into session just after 9:00 Monday morning and was scheduled to hear the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman.
But, Justice Paul Farrell, who is the presiding officer, and Justice Workman herself, did not show up.
That’s because last week the acting Supreme Court Justices ruled the impeachment process is unconstitutional.
There is debate now that even Justice Allen Loughry, who was convicted on 11 federal felony charges last Friday, can’t even be impeached.
“Under the opinion issued by the court, it’s entirely possible that a federal felon can remain as a sitting members of our state Supreme Court with little opportunity, or any opportunity for the legislature to take any action about it,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, (R-Clay).
Key Democrats disagree.
“The Supreme Court has given us a ruling that we can act on. The House of Delegates wants to go back and re-impeach any of the justices, they surely have the authority to do that,” said Senator Mike Romano, (D-Harrison).
There are those who believe some sort of immediate action needs to be taken to remove Justice Loughry from office.
The impeachment trials cost an estimated $7,000 per day.
“We shouldn’t have to go and spend $7,000 a day, to impeach a man who is on his way to prison. He should automatically be purged from those rolls,” said Senator Richard Ojeda, (D-Logan).
The Senate is asking the Supreme Court to re-hear this case, with input from the House.
Republicans argue there is a separation of powers argument here:
“That this decision improvidently places the Court system squarely into what is the power of the legislature, between the House and the Senate, for an impeachment,” explained Senate Minority Whip Ryan Weld, (R-Brooke).
The impeachment stems for a multi-million dollar court spending scandal where justices spent lavishly on office renovations and decorations.
In the meantime, the clock is ticking.
If this session of the Legislature does not complete the impeachment process by the time the next session is sworn in, they will have to start all over again in January.