Supreme Court to hear case over governor’s residency

Gov. Jim Justice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) —The West Virginia Supreme Court has set oral arguments in a lawsuit over whether Gov. Jim Justice must live in the state capital.

Arguments are set for Oct. 14 in an appeal of a Kanawha circuit judge’s ruling that denied the governor’s motion to dismiss the 2-year-old case filed by Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, news outlets reported.

Sponaugle, a Democrat, wants Justice to live in Charleston, per the state constitution that says governors should “reside at the seat of the government.” Lawyers for the Republican governor, who lives in Greenbrier County and is seeking reelection in November, have argued “reside” has vague meaning.

In their petition to the court, Justice’s attorneys say the question is political and it’s up to the governor or lawmakers to decide residency. The attorneys say a judicial ruling would represent a violation of the separation of powers clauses in both the state and U.S. constitutions.

That argument is based on an “incorrect interpretation of legal precedent,” Sponaugle said.