CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Saying the people of West Virginia deserve a fair and impartial court, Beth Walker formally announced her candidacy for the state Supreme Court of Appeals Tuesday.
"I'm tired of our court system not giving both plaintiffs and defendants a fair shake," Walker said during her speech, given at the Charleston Area Alliance building. "I am seeking the support of all West Virginians who agree with me that the Supreme Court should act in its intended role as an independent branch of government deciding cases based upon the Constitution, established law and precedent.
"The Court should not be an impediment to prosperity and opportunity in our state."
Walker, 42, becomes the first Republican in the race for the two seats that will be on the 2008 ballot. She is a partner in the Charleston office of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, and she has practiced law in the state for 17 years. Her practice areas include labor and employment litigation. She primarily helps employers deal with lawsuits involving discrimination, wages and other such issues.
She compared the role of the state Supreme Court Justices to that of a football referee.
"You trust that the officials are going to make calls based on fairness and impartiality and not because they want one of the teams to win," Walker said. "As West Virginians, we should trust that our Supreme Court is treating everyone just as fairly and deciding cases based upon established law and not based upon a preconceived agenda."
Walker said she has the utmost respect for the judiciary and as a member of the bar, a sincere reverence for the Supreme Court of Appeals
"The due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government," she said. "When our judicial system is fair and impartial, working West Virginians can see a positive future and companies can invest in West Virginia with confidence in a strong work force and a court system that will not impede positive change."
Walker said she chose to announce her candidacy at the Charleston Area Alliance because many small and new businesses have offices there. She said that shows the kinds of opportunities that can be created when West Virginians commit to improving their communities and state.
Walker is married to Mike Walker, executive vice president of Walker Machinery, a local construction equipment firm. She also volunteers with the Girl Scouts of America.
Being her first run for public office, Walker said she is looking forward to traveling throughout West Virginia and speaking about how the Supreme Court is an essential part of our state's future.
"As a justice of the Supreme Court, I would be constantly mindful of the solemn responsibility of that office," she said. "While the other two branches of government -- the legislative and the executive -- have specific checks on their authority, the judiciary is unique in that the only check upon its exercise of power is its own self-restraint."
Democrats who already have announced their candidacies for the two Supreme Court seats are incumbent Spike Maynard, former Justice Margaret Workman, West Virginia University law professor Bob Bastress, Charleston attorney Mike Allen and Huntington attorney Menis Ketchum also says he is considering a run for one of the seats as well.
Justice Larry Starcher, whose term is up next year, hasn't announced whether he will seek another term on the bench.