By Matt Rooney
You may’ve heard that our friends and countrymen not-too-far-away in West Virginia are undergoing an interesting and unique political ordeal, Save Jerseyans: the impeachment of four state supreme court justices.
“Unfortunately, as we pursued the evidence, it became clear that the state Supreme Court has been overcome by a culture of entitlement and cavalier indifference with regard to the spending of taxpayer money,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “This has resulted in the public’s loss of confidence in the state’s highest court which must be repaired.”
One of the judges is reportedly facing a 25-count federal indictment.
The rest? Extravagant spending appears to be the primary offense.
An antique office desk valued at $42,000, a lush $32,000 blue suede sofa, and an elaborate $7,500 inlaid wooden floor map of all 55 West Virginia counties are among the extravaganzas at issue; Justice Robin Davis allegedly spent $500,000 on upgrades to her own offices. I wonder if she’s got same decorator as Tammy Murphy?
But I get it. West Virginia has never been America’s most prosperous state. This is REAL money! And if the justices are treating the taxpayers like a bottomless expense account, then you can’t really play the legislature for being a little teed off.
All the same, my first reaction to this story, Save Jerseyans, was the same as my fellow New Jerseyan, Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25) of Morris County.
“Oh, to have the problems West Virginia has with its Supreme Court!!! They cost the taxpayers a few $100,000; our Supreme Court of New Jersey has cost the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and fomented a quality of life disaster with Abbott and Mt. Laurel. I would be delighted to arrange a trade,” Carroll opined on one of my Facebook threads on the topic.
He’s not at all wrong. The school funding formula and affordable housing mandates — both outgrowths of judicial intervention in policymaking that would ordinarily belong to a legislative body — have produced ridiculous and expensive results for New Jersey taxpayers. The school funding issue (where taxpayers subsidize $30,000+ annual education bills in some districts, per K-12 student, with no tangible results for the kids or their compulsory patrons from other towns) gets most of the attention. The Supreme Court’s relatively recent “gap period” decision has foisted a mandate for tens of thousands (or more) new housing units on New Jersey’s communities.
These are billion dollar problems.
New Jersey taxpayers would be better off, as Carroll jokes, paying for expensive couches and maps. By a few zeros!