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WVCALA: Should The Legislature Or Our Courtrooms Set Public Policy?

Press release received from West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse is a nonprofit citizen watchdog group with 30,000 members interested in a broad range of civil justice issues.  For more information, visit http://www.WVCALA.org.

Charleston, W.Va. – Opponents of a recently enacted workplace freedom law appear to have found a sympathetic ear in a Kanawha County Circuit Courtroom, but when half of the states have adopted similar laws, is a legal challenge to the law more of a search for justice or an attempt to set public policy through our judicial system rather than the legislature? 

This question was posed by legal watchdog group West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA) this week.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Walker Bailey issued a preliminary injunction against the workplace freedom law, which prevents the law from being applied pending a full hearing on the legal challenge. 

“From our point of view, mounting a court challenge to such a widely used law begs the question of whether this is judicial activism – or trying to set public policy through a courtroom rather than the legislature, which is supposed to be the forum for setting broad policies for the state. The legislature has spoken on this issue and courts across the country have upheld similar workplace freedom proposals,” said Roman Stauffer, Executive Director of WV CALA.

“Trying to set our laws through courtroom decisions is yet another example of the challenges to our legal system that generate concerns among our members,” continued Stauffer.

Governor Bob Wise appointed Judge Jennifer Walker Bailey in 2002. According to research conducted by WV CALA, more than half of the current circuit judges in West Virginia were initially appointed by a governor. 

Stauffer added, “This injunction creates uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the workplace freedom law passed by the legislature this year, and the law had already taken effect.”