The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Virtual Debate ’08 – Day 5

with one comment

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

Welcome to the second-to-last day of Virtual Debate ’08. Today, questions, asked by supporters of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, our staff, our ministry allies, and the West Virginia Media are being answered by the Candidates for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

As has been the process with each debate, candidates were given the same amount of time to answer the questions posed to them, allowed to submit a brief biography by way of introduction, and were informed that the words, “This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate ’08” would appear by their slot, should they choose to forego participation in this opportunity to speak directly to you, the voter.

You will note one difference in the answers to these questions based mainly on the office being sought. Candidates for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia are under the same election laws as other candidates, but must also obey the ethical rules (the Canon of Judicial Ethics) of the office for which they are seeking. While there is some debate ongoing about a candidate’s ability to speak directly to the issues, a candidate may choose to decline to answer if he or she believes such a question may come before the court while he or she sits as a justice on that court.

Again, our purpose is to neither endorse, nor oppose any candidate for office. We simply make available to you the answers to questions on issues you might care about when selecting your political leaders.

Day 5…..

Biography of Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

Beth Walker combines a clear conservative voice and a passion for judicial fairness and integrity with almost two decades of legal experience. Since beginning the practice of law over 18 years ago at Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love LLP, where she is now a partner, she has earned the respect of her clients, colleagues and adversaries. A 1987 summa cum laude graduate of Hillsdale College, Beth earned her law degree in 1990 from The Ohio State University.

Beth is a devoted wife and stepmom who is active in her community and church. For almost a decade, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Girl Scouts. She is the past board president of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center. Beth is a 1999 graduate of Leadership West Virginia and now serves on that organization’s board of directors.

Beth’s endorsements include the West Virginia Family Foundation, West Virginians for Life, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, West Virginia Medical Association, West Virginia Business and Industry Council, West Virginia Hospital Association and the National Rifle Association.

Biography of The Hon. Margaret Workman

Margaret Workman was born in Charleston, WV, attended Kanawha County public schools, was the first in her family to go to college, and made history as the first woman elected to statewide office.  And, at a time when few women attended law school, she earned a law degree at the WVU College of Law.

After law school, Workman was assistant counsel to the U. S. Senate Public Works Committee, a law clerk to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, a staff assistant to Rosalyn Carter, and a campaign aide to Senator Jay Rockefeller.  Workman opened a law office in Charleston, practicing there until being appointed to the Kanawha County Circuit Court in 1981.

She then served on the WV  Supreme Court for eighteen years, becoming its first female Chief Justice.  Workman developed a strong record of protection for abused and neglected children, fostering a close relationship between the court system and the domestic violence programs in the state – even forming the Task Force on Gender Fairness in the Courts.

Margaret’s three young adult children are her proudest achievement.  She has been active in church and community, helping start the Manna Meal program and form the Charleston Interdenominational Council on Social Concerns.

No other candidate for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has submitted a biography.

Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq. of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia asks, “How do you believe that you as a Justice of the Supreme Court of West Virginia can promote and encourage strong families?”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. My eighteen-year judicial record reflects a strong interest in issues affecting children and families, preservation of the family unit, and the fight against family violence. From a jurisprudential perspective, I spearheaded the development of one of the strongest bodies of law in the nation to protect abused and neglected children, and to shape a court system more responsive to problems of family violence. From an administrative perspective, I was instrumental in the creation of a family court system, and in providing more training for family court judges and magistrates in the context of dealing with families in trouble. I worked to ensure fairness to both genders in the court system, and authored the West Virginia law which requires that family courts to protect the rights of non-custodial parents to a full opportunity for a meaningful relationship with their children, and wrote law which supported strong enforcement of child support obligations. My opinions in the divorce arena provided fairness to both marriage partners, including imposing financial sanctions in divorce on those who were guilty of marital misconduct. I authored the opinions that established the right of children to continued relationship with those to whom they had an emotional bond, while upholding the rights of non-offending natural parents. Because of my special interest in adoption, I was asked to testify before the United States Senate on the issue of ways the law could facilitate the adoption of children waiting for homes. I authored law which emphasized the importance of children having permanency in their lives and with their right to be a member of a family. All West Virginians will benefit when the Supreme Court is fair, impartial and focused on the rule of law and not politics. I am focused on a positive future for West Virginia and committed to changing the negative perceptions of our court system so that jobs, health care and opportunities enabling West Virginia’s families to flourish are not in jeopardy. With hard work, we can change West Virginia so that our children and grandchildren are not forced to leave the state in order to pursue careers and support their families.As Justice of the Supreme Court, I will be committed to the punishment of convicted criminals according to our laws, which contributes to the safety of West Virginia families. I will demonstrate effective, energetic leadership in the administration of our court system, which is crucial for the functioning of our circuit, magistrate and family courts.

Gary Bauer, President of ministry friend American Values asks, “Do you believe the Constitution of the State of West Virginia requires the state to fund abortions on demand?”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. No. Existing law provides that the Constitution makes no such requirement. In fact, West Virginia case law in the Panepinto case makes clear that the state is free to refuse to fund any reproductive health choices. However, once the state chooses to pay for reproductive health choices, it must do so in a manner that comports with principles of equal protection. I respectfully decline to respond to questions requiring me to address legal issues that I may be called upon to decide as Justice of the Supreme Court. With that limitation, I believe that the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and the United States Constitution are not “living and breathing” documents subject to differing interpretations according to the whims of society. These documents are written, so to speak, in ink and not pencil. It is not appropriate for Supreme Court Justices to engage in judicial activism, which occurs when a judge substitutes her personal beliefs or agenda for the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.

Barry Holstein of Kanawha County, West Virginia asks, “What sitting justice on the Supreme Court of the United States best reflects your judicial philosophy?”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. Rather than attempting to identify my judicial philosophies with that of any sitting U. S. Supreme Court Justice, I prefer that my own eighteen-year record of judicial service speak to that issue. No one need guess about me. I have an extensive written record. Both my record and my life reflect strong values of professional and personal integrity, and a strong respect for family values. I admire Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. for his judicial temperament, his view of the United States Constitution and separation of powers and his commitment to working against the politicization of the judiciary.

Tom Minnery, Senior Vice-President for Government and Public Policy with Focus on the Family Action asks, “Do you believe the Constitution of the State of West Virginia recognizes a right to same-sex marriage?”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. The current law in West Virginia would suggest that it does not. In April 2004, the Supreme Court refused to accept a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus brought by lesbian petitioners who were denied a license to marry and who then sought to compel a county clerk to issue them a marriage license. I respectfully decline to respond to questions requiring me to address legal issues that I may be called upon to decide as Justice of the Supreme Court. With that limitation, I believe that the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and the United States Constitution are not “living and breathing” documents subject to differing interpretations according to the whims of society. These documents are written, so to speak, in ink and not pencil. It is not appropriate for Supreme Court Justices to engage in judicial activism, which occurs when a judge substitutes her personal beliefs or agenda for the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.

Chris Dickerson of the West Virginia Record asks, “What needs to be done to correct the notion – real or perceived – that West Virginia (and it’s legal system in particular) is not friendly to business?”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. The role of the Supreme Court is to be a neutral body which makes decisions according to the law and no other consideration. It should not seek to project an image of favor to either side, business or labor, plaintiff or defense…but should be assiduous always in maintaining respect for the other branches of government and confining itself to the exercise of only judicial powers. The primary role that the Supreme Court can play in creating a good business environment is to take a lot of cases in for full consideration and then decide those cases according to the law, so that those who seek to work or do business in West Virginia will have a sure knowledge that any issues which arise will be dealt with in a fair and even-handed manner. Regardless of the disagreement regarding whether the labels applied to West Virginia’s court system are accurate, the perception of unfairness indisputably exists. Eliminating this perception will take time and diligent effort. We must elect justices who are willing to decide cases based upon the law and not based upon partisan politics or the identity of the parties. We must elect justices who are committed the principles of fairness, impartiality and integrity.

Tony Perkins, President of allied ministry Family Research Council asks, “Do you believe the Constitution of the State of West Virginia recognizes domestic partnerships for same-sex couples? Civil unions?

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. Unable to respond due to this question constituting a pending or impending legal question which could come before the Court. (Note: The Code of Judicial Ethics prohibits judges and judicial candidates from speaking out on unresolved issues which could come before the Court.) I respectfully decline to respond to questions requiring me to address legal issues that I may be called upon to decide as Justice of the Supreme Court. With that limitation, I believe that the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and the United States Constitution are not “living and breathing” documents subject to differing interpretations according to the whims of society. These documents are written, so to speak, in ink and not pencil. It is not appropriate for Supreme Court Justices to engage in judicial activism, which occurs when a judge substitutes her personal beliefs or agenda for the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.

Phil Raines of Kanawha County, West Virginia, “Does our state constitution permit the practice of so-called ‘partial birth abortion?'”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. The right for a woman to choose abortion within certain parameters is governed by the law of the United Supreme Court, not the West Virginia Constitution. There is no constitutional right to late trimester abortions under U. S. Supreme Court law, nor after a child is viable on its own. I respectfully decline to respond to questions requiring me to address legal issues that I may be called upon to decide as Justice of the Supreme Court. With that limitation, I believe that the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and the United States Constitution are not “living and breathing” documents subject to differing interpretations according to the whims of society. These documents are written, so to speak, in ink and not pencil. It is not appropriate for Supreme Court Justices to engage in judicial activism, which occurs when a judge substitutes her personal beliefs or agenda for the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.

Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq. of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia asks, “Do you believe the Constitution of the State of West Virginia permits student-led prayers in public schools?”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. Unable to respond due to this question constituting a pending or impending legal question which could come before the Court. (Note: The Code of Judicial Ethics prohibits judges and judicial candidates from speaking out on unresolved issues which could come before the Court.) I respectfully decline to respond to questions requiring me to address legal issues that I may be called upon to decide as Justice of the Supreme Court. With that limitation, I believe that the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and the United States Constitution are not “living and breathing” documents subject to differing interpretations according to the whims of society. These documents are written, so to speak, in ink and not pencil. It is not appropriate for Supreme Court Justices to engage in judicial activism, which occurs when a judge substitutes her personal beliefs or agenda for the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.

Jeremiah G. Dys, Esq. of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia asks, “Is it your belief that the Constitution of the State of West Virginia would permit Faith-based organizations to utilize taxpayer dollars to fund social welfare efforts, without amending their religious tenets?”

Mr. Menis Ketchum, Esq.

The Hon. Margaret Workman

Ms. Beth Walker, Esq.

This candidate has declined participation in Virtual Debate’08. Unable to respond due to this question constituting a pending or impending legal question which could come before the Court. (Note: The Code of Judicial Ethics prohibits judges and judicial candidates from speaking out on issues which could come before the Court.) There are strong constitutional principles on the separation of church and state, and that the religious views of all must be respected. I respectfully decline to respond to questions requiring me to address legal issues that I may be called upon to decide as Justice of the Supreme Court. With that limitation, I believe that the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and the United States Constitution are not “living and breathing” documents subject to differing interpretations according to the whims of society. These documents are written, so to speak, in ink and not pencil. It is not appropriate for Supreme Court Justices to engage in judicial activism, which occurs when a judge substitutes her personal beliefs or agenda for the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.

Ms. Beth Walker’s Question:

Should West Virginia make changes to the way Justices of the Supreme Court are elected?

Ms. Beth Walker’s Answer:

Politics and partisanship indisputably have contributed to the negative perceptions of West Virginia’s court system. Under the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, the legislature may determine whether elections for Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal are partisan or nonpartisan. Making the change to nonpartisan elections is a worthy topic for consideration by the legislature. Such a change would remove one-half of the election cycle (the primary), and necessarily reduce the politics in the process of electing justices. Eliminating partisan labels and politics would promote focusing on the qualifications of the candidates rather than party registration. In the final analysis, integrity, fairness and impartiality are not partisan issues.

No other candidate for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has submitted another question.

Advertisements

Written by Jeremy Dys

September 19, 2008 at 10:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. These questions are tough for judicial candidates to answer due to the Code of Judicial Conduct, which doesn’t allow judicial candidates to answer on topics that may come before them if elected.

    I personally know Beth Walker, and she is a good woman. She is active in the community through the Girl Scouts and the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, which offers free faith based counseling to those in need. She is also very active in her church. Beth Walker doesn’t like activist judges who legislate from the bench.

    I am encouraging all my friends and family to only vote for Beth Walker. She is a smarter and better candidate than the other two choices.

    David Mitchell

    September 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: