State Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher speaks Sept. 18 at West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery about the U.S. Constitution. (Photo by Kelly Holleran)
MONTGOMERY -- Students at West Virginia University Institute of Technology celebrated Constitution Week, listening to state Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher speak on the history of the Constitution and its impact today.
Starcher, who was invited to the school by political science professor Barry S. Harrison, spoke to two classes of students combined in one classroom for about one hour, throwing in anecdotes about his life as he discussed the nation's founding fathers and the important documents they wrote.
His speech began with the day he was born – Sept. 25, 1942 – in an old farmhouse in Roane County. His mother delivered her son alone – no hospital or doctors to help her out, Starcher said.
He went on to become the first in his family to graduate from high school, then WVU law school, where he still teaches a class on Monday nights.
He then delved into the history of Constitution Day, which started out as Citizenship Day after Congress passed a law in 1952.
West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd helped change the name to Constitution Day in 2004, and it is celebrated every year on Sept. 17.
Compromise was key to the development of the Constitution and still is today, Starcher said.
"The whole framework of the Constitution demands compromise," he said.
He talked about the four main approaches to judicial interpretation, or ways to interpret the law. They include original intent and stare decisis.
The other two are when courts look to ways the legislative and executive branches have interpreted the Constitution and when they take into account the effect a ruling may have on public policy.
Starcher, who did not run for re-election and whose term will expire Dec. 31, was asked what he plans to do next year.
"Baby-sit," he said with a smile.
His son and one of his daughters live less than two miles away from where he will be moving in Morgantown, and he plans to spend time with his four neighboring grandchildren as often as possible, he said.
He also plans to continue his work at WVU and may occasionally fill in for the court when needed, he said.
"I can't see myself as not working," he said.
He decided not to run again because of his age and health. He has had four operations in the past year and could not see serving another 12-year term, but said he would have loved to work for another three or four years if the law allowed it.