Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, back to camera, reaches to hug Virginia Supreme Court Justice, Jane Marum Roush, as he arrives to deliver his State of the Commonwealth Address before a joint session of the 2016 Virginia Assembly at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016.
Members of the Virginia General Assembly are planning to oust a member of the state Supreme Court, a bit of unfinished business from last year, when Republicans decided they didn't like the justice appointed by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe.
The drama started last summer, when former Justice LeRoy Millette resigned from the court. Lawmakers were not around to approve a new justice because the General Assembly session was over, so Gov. Terry McAuliffe made a recess appointment.
Now Republicans say they have a different pick for the job, and want to unseat Supreme Court Justice Jane Roush. McAuliffe raised the issue during his State of the Commonwealth Address earlier this week.
"I do hope that we will treat our newest Supreme Court justice with the respect that she deserves as a jurist who has served our commonwealth with honor for 22 years," said the governor.
But the speech did not change the political situation. Republicans have the votes to appoint a different justice, and that's exactly what they plan to do. Del. Dave Albo (R-42) of Springfield says he's a fan of Roush and he disagrees with the move. But he also says that lawmakers — not the governor — have the final say over who serves on the court.
"I just don't think this is as monumental or outrageous as people seem to think it is," says Albo. "The constitution says that the House and Senate appoint the judges."
Democrats say Republicans are engaging in a partisan attack, one they say could undermine the judicial selection process for years to come. Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) says Republicans shouldn't oust a Supreme Court justice because their feelings were hurt.
"The speaker has as much as said the reason we are not going to vote for her is that we have another person," says Favola. "Well, that is politics."
Democrats say they're concerned about what will happen to Roush, who resigned her seat on the Fairfax County Circuit Court to become a justice last year. If she wants to return to her old seat, she'll need votes from the same lawmakers who are about to oust her from the high court.