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Lesson Learned

Walker says high court wants to be transparent

West Virginia Supreme Court justices seem to have learned a lesson from last year’s impeachment summer. Let us hope they resist a recurrence of the arrogance — and that is the word for it — that caused the problem.

Two of the court’s five members were forced out of office after they were charged with crimes.

A third quit after it appeared she might be tried in the state Senate on impeachment accusations.

One of those left, Chief Justice Elizabeth Walker, was censured by the Senate. The last, Justice Margaret Workman, was impeached by the House of Delegates but avoided a trial in the Senate only because of a ruling by five circuit judges sitting temporarily as the state’s highest court.

The new court is composed of Walker, Workman, two justices elected by the people (Tim Armstead and Evan Jenkins) and a fifth, John Hutchison, appointed by the governor.

Clearly, members of the court have reason to believe they are walking on eggshells.

This week, Walker gave state legislators — and West Virginians — some reason to breathe a sigh of relief. She requested the judicial system be granted a budget of $131.1 million next year. That is $8.6 million less than the current appropriation.

Walker also told lawmakers the current justices “want to be transparent. We want to be responsible.”

Good. That attitude needs to continue. Supreme Court members should bear in mind that separation of powers is not a license to abuse taxpayers.

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