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Campaign Update: Candidate Bill Schwartz offers opinion on Supreme Court and West Virginia

By Bill Schwartz

Candidate for W.Va. Supreme Court

In 2018 our Supreme Court and our state faced a real constitutional crisis. $32,000 couches and over 3-million-dollar office renovations for justices outraged taxpayers – and I was one of them. As an award-winning lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in West Virginia Courts I decided to run in the special election that resulted from impeachments and resignations from this crisis. My decision to run started at my 30-year reunion from Washington & Lee University School of Law where a former classmate and Texas lawyer asked me how many of our justices would be indicted. It shocked me how our local problem was now national and a stain I don’t think has been washed away with all that followed. This is no criticism of the conduct of any currently sitting justices.

Bill Schwartz
Bill Schwartz

My concerns focused on the process of the impeachments, appointments and the influence of out of state money on the campaign and I wasn’t alone. I filed suit against the governor over constitutional issues regarding his appointments and was joined by another attorney and assisted by many who shared my concern. Indeed, while being interviewed in the Eastern Panhandle recently by a conservative radio host, he pointed out that he shared my concern that the leader of one political party was in the office of the governor during the appointments. Concerns that stretched to the out of state money effort on behalf of two candidates by a party – in a supposedly nonpartisan race. In his words, not mine, it all smelled a bit.

I believe that politicians and justices put us into this mess and some new perspective is needed. As a lawyer I ran a firm and a business with payroll and taxes so I bring a new perspective that is sorely needed. Clearly the robes and the title of your honor warped the perspective of some prior justices. The taxpayer dollar belongs to the taxpayer!

West Virginia continues to lose population at a rate higher than the rest of the nation.  When my older son graduates Marshall University this spring, he will likely join the brain drain of bright young minds fleeing our state for greater opportunities, leaving behind an opioid crisis and 7,000 children in state custody. It’s not a rosy picture but it’s our reality. How we deal with it is up to us. We can continue to allow out of state interests to lull us with commercials of kissing puppies and the like – or we can educate ourselves about the issues.

Our Court must apply the law fairly and have the blinders on whether the party at the bench is the governor or a janitor – but it must also respect our tax dollars. The Supreme Court controls 130 million dollars that funds our entire court system.  West Virginia citizens deserve the best administrator to control that money, then the Justices need to closely watch him. Something was missing several years ago and hopefully that has been fixed. As a candidate I intend to make sure it is fixed.

Better days are ahead for West Virginia if we take action now. We can take our seat at the table by properly informing ourselves and voting on May 12, or we can allow out of state interests and a few at the table who benefit to keep us on the menu – while we pay the tab. We all want predictability and fairness and so do companies that are considering coming here. This is not a liberal or conservative issue and I belong to no party.  I am unaffiliated as a candidate should be for an office that is nonpartisan by law. After all, shouldn’t the position of justice be governed by law and followed by all who seek that office including their supporters? This is the time to put principles over politics and right the ship of state. Our Court should be about our people which includes you, me, your children and mine – including the seven thousand now in State custody. This is our state and our court system so let’s take it back on May 12.

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