Court got it right
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a good decision on Monday when justices voted 5-4 to require that the West Virginia Supreme Court reconsider a case involving Massey Energy.
At issue was whether State Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin should have recused himself from voting to overturn a $50 million verdict against Massey and in favor of a smaller coal company that claimed it was forced into bankruptcy by Massey's business practices.
Twice, Benjamin was the deciding vote in 3-2 decisions favoring Massey in the case. Yet Massey's president, Don Blankenship, spent $3 million to help Benjamin get elected to the court in 2004.
In the past, we editorialized that Benjamin should have removed himself from hearing Massey cases because of the "appearance of impropriety." If State Supreme Court justices want the public to trust their opinions, they can't be perceived as paying back those who contributed to their campaigns.
Now, the nation's supreme court has delivered the same opinion. Let's hope the lesson has been learned.