The Gazette-Mail endorses Joanna Tabit in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Division 2 race. The race is nonpartisan and will be decided in the upcoming primary.
Division 2 has four candidates with extensive courtroom experience, either as a judge or attorney, and some with both. Jim Douglas has been a longtime family court judge, Bill Wooton has had a long and distinguished legal career and Kristina Raynes has extensive experience as an assistant prosecutor. But Tabit is the one we believe will bring the right qualities to the state’s high court.
Tabit has been a circuit judge in Kanawha County since 2014. Before that, she was a practicing attorney. But she began her career more than 30 years ago, as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thomas E. McHugh. Following that, she worked as a deputy attorney general.
Tabit also has experience serving on the Supreme Court, sitting in on several cases when other justices have recused themselves.
Her strongest asset is that she is a judge, through and through. Tabit is not a politician, nor a judicial activist (as she told Gazette-Mail editors, “I’ve never wanted to be anything else.”).
Given the problems that have consumed the court in recent years, from spending scandals to impeachment to criminal charges and mass resignations, someone like Tabit could not only stabilize and restore trust in the court, but depoliticize it, as well.
The turbulence around the court in 2018 allowed Gov. Jim Justice to appoint three new justices to the five-judge high court, which is unprecedented. Now, with three seats up for election — and the Division 1 and 2 races for full, 12-year terms — West Virginians are faced with choices that will shape their most powerful court for a generation. That’s why it is of the utmost importance to elect justices who will hear cases effectively, efficiently and without political bias. Tabit is the perfect candidate in that regard.
Even the other endorsements she’s received show Tabit is someone who treats each case fairly, which is the highest compliment a judge can receive. She’s endorsed by pro-industry groups and pro-labor groups. It’s not often a candidate is endorsed by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the state AFL-CIO, or the United Mine Workers of America and the Coal Owner’s Association.
With all of the corruption and politicization of the West Virginia Supreme Court that has occurred in years past, it’s time to steer the court back to being an entity for the people. Joanna Tabit would help accomplish that. She deserves West Virginians’ votes.