Supreme Court says language clear Tomblin must appoint Republican
By Jeff Jenkins | WV MetroNews
The state Senate will return to an 18-16 advantage for Republicans following an opinion by the state Supreme Court Friday in the controversy surrounding the replacement for former Senator Daniel Hall.
In an opinion authored by Justice Margaret Workman, the Court ruled 3-1, the current state code is clear and unambiguous when it comes to the filling of an empty seat in the Senate by the governor.
The opinion pointed to the code language that the governor must appoint “the person holding the office immediately preceding the vacancy was affiliated.”
Hall was a Republican when he resigned from the Senate a few weeks ago to take a job with the National Rifle Association but was a Democrat when he was elected to the position in 2012. The West Virginia Democratic Party, attorneys representing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and others argued the code language was ambiguous and reverted back to the will of the voters when Hall was elected. The Court rejected the argument.
“We reject petitioners’ reasoning because their reading of the statute is profoundly strained and constitutes a misreading of statutory language that is clear in its
meaning,” the order said.
Gov. Tomblin will soon appoint a Republican, Tomblin administration Communications Director Chris Stadelman said.
“Gov. Tomblin has said throughout this process that he will abide by the court’s ruling, and based on the decision issued Friday, he will appoint a Republican from the list submitted to him,” Stadelman said.
The 9th Senatorial District Republican Executive Committee sent the names of Jack Fincham, Naomi “Sue” Cline, both of Brenton, and Epp Cline of Oceana to the governor.
Justices Workman, Chief Justice Menis Ketchum and Allen Loughry were in the majority. Justice Robin Davis dissented.