Last Friday, Justice Workman filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the state Supreme Court, pleading for it to halt impeachment proceedings in the state Senate on claims the process was unconstitutional. Former Justice Davis filed a similar lawsuit in federal court Wednesday.
Delegates Folk and McGeehan said not only is the current impeachment process completely constitutional, but any effort by the judicial branch to intervene would be in-and-of itself unconstitutional.
“Article Four, Section Nine of the state Constitution makes it abundantly clear: ‘The House of Delegates shall have the sole power of impeachment. The Senate shall have the sole power to try impeachments,’” Delegate Folk said. “‘Sole power’ means ‘sole power’ – that the legislative branch alone has the authority to consider and try impeachments. Any effort by any other branch of government to intervene in this process – aside from participating in its own defense before the Legislature – is a violation of the ‘sole power’ provisions in the Constitution.”
“In matters of impeachment, the Legislature does not answer to the state Supreme Court or federal courts, it answers only to the voters of our state,” Delegate McGeehan said. “The people will hold us accountable, not a group of hand-picked judicial allies or colleagues on the federal bench.”
Delegates Folk and McGeehan said Justices Workman and Davis were invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, and allowed to have attorneys participate in the process. In fact, Justice Workman made herself available to questioning by members during a Supreme Court tour. Both individuals will also have the opportunity to present a full and public defense before the state Senate.
“To say due process rights have been violated is a total farce,” Delegate McGeehan said. “Also, claims that impeachment proceedings violate the separation of powers embedded in the Constitution are preposterous – impeachment was designed to be the Legislature’s check and balance on corruption in other branches of government.”
Delegates Folk and McGeehan said Justice Workman’s and former Justice Davis’s petitions should be thrown out of court on their face, and that the Senate and individual respondents named should not even file a response to the matter.
“To file a response to this nonsense would be an acknowledgement that a court has the power to review our sole power, and that is clearly not the case,” Delegate Folk said. “Anyone with a basic level of literacy can clearly read that impeachment is a matter left to the Legislature alone, and they can see that this is a clear attempt on the part of Justice Workman and former Justice Davis to set a dangerous precedent for any future impeachments by saying that the court could define any of the parameters of this process, which is a clear contradiction to the ‘sole power’ clause of Article Four, Section Nine of our Constitution.”
“The people of this state are sick and tired of the arrogance of this court, and these acts of hubris by Justice Workman and former Justice Davis are just continuing examples of why this impeachment process started in the first place,” Delegate McGeehan said. “I’m not sure if some of these lawyers were ever taught plain English, but in our Constitution, ‘sole power’ means these judges can take their nice little court order and file it in their ten-thousand dollar trash can.”