The process of electing our judiciary in a single election held on the day of the primary is relatively new. And the fact that three of the five West Virginia Supreme Court justices, a majority of the court, are on the ballot might be unprecedented. It is an important vote and, under the current system, you don’t even need to get a majority of the votes to be on the state’s highest court for 12 years.
Most people understand that, under the separation of powers, it is the judicial branch that interprets statutes, applies what is called “common law” and rules on challenges of constitutionality. In doing so, it is the citizenry’s last resort for protection against government and corporate overreach and official, corporate or individual violations of the law or abuse of power.
Clearly, it is in the public interest for us all to make well-informed decisions about who will be elected to these high positions.
Another process change made the election nonpartisan. So, if your party affiliation is what often guides your vote, you don’t even have that to inform your choices.
As a West Virginia voter, I found www.wvcourtelections.org to be a useful, unbiased resource. The submissions were from the candidates themselves, although there are many restrictions about what judicial candidates may comment upon, unlike candidates for legislative or executive office.
Please visit the website before casting your vote for Supreme Court justices.
Debra L. Hamilton