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W.Va. Supreme Court impeachment proceedings could raise constitution questions

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) In a surprise twist during Thursday's legislative session, a West Virginia lawmaker took aim at West Virginia's highest court. 

Del .Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha County, introduced a resolution asking the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether impeachment proceedings are warranted against the West Virginia Supreme Court, and specifically, Chief Justice Allen Loughery. 

"My resolution directs the judiciary committee to make an inquiry as to whether impeachment is the way to go," said Del. Pushkin during his floor speech. 

The lawmaker asked legislators to look at recent expenditures by the high court on office renovations and furniture at a time when other programs are being cut. 

"There's been cuts to drug courts which we do not have in all 55 counties. Drug courts save lives and taxpayer dollars," explained Del. Pushkin. "We've done away with the Sex Offender monitoring program. They've done away with that. There's nobody to do that on nights and weekends. And we've done away with reimbursements to Guardian Ad Litems." 

While it is unclear yet whether Del. Pushkin has the support to move the resolution forward, several lawmakers voiced concern after Thursday's session over the high court's spending. 

"A $30,000 dollar couch," asked Del. Ed Evans, (D) McDowell County, "I don't have $30,000 dollars worth of furniture in my whole house. The nerve...it's just terrible." 

If lawmakers decide to move forward, the House of Delegates could be moving into uncharted territory as it is traditionally the Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court who presides over impeachment proceedings. 

"To my knowledge, it's not been done before," said Del. John Shott, (R) Mercer County. "But I believe that the constitution requires that it would originate in the Judiciary Committee in the House then there would be action by the full house. But generally I believe the Supreme Court Chief Justice presides over those trials. So I believe we'll deal with that if it gets that that point." 

During Thursday's session, several lawmakers  also expressed an interest in a constitutional amendment which would bring the court's spending under the legislature's control. Currently, it is up to the high court to keep their spending in check. 

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