By THOMAS E. McHUGH

CHARLESTON -- "Justice for All" is more than just a slogan, a quick, neat way to indicate the diverse and lengthy list of supporters of my campaign for justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court.

It is also a kind of personal commitment, my heartfelt pledge by which I live. It is the only standard I have known, the fundamental ethic which I have kept every single day I have been fortunate enough to serve West Virginians from the bench.

The outpouring of support for me to continue my work has been, in all candor, a little overwhelming and more than a little humbling. It has come from veterans, businesspeople, unions' rank and file laboring people, teachers, students, senior citizens, women and men of all walks of life from all over the state -- many through official organizational endorsements and many, many more who have individually contacted me as I've traveled the state.

Without such enthusiastic support from so many diverse people from the Eastern Panhandle to the Ohio River Valley, from the Southernmost Coal Fields to the Northern Panhandle, I would not have sought election.

But support me they have. Through conversations at dinners, senior centers, school houses, community centers, people's homes, and too many other places to list here, I've learned that, as diverse as these West Virginians are, they all have something in common, one ultimate reason for supporting me: that throughout my years on the bench -- six years as a circuit judge and 19 as a justice -- I have lived the motto Justice for All. I have been bound to my pledge and I have kept my promise.

I believe in the simple things of life, and there's really nothing simpler to understand than this: Everyone, regardless of status or station of life, deserves justice under the law. It may not always be simple to put into place, but the nature of my character -- the way I was raised in these hills of West Virginia that instilled into me the basic moral and ethical standards which we all cherish -- causes me to fall back on the old-fashioned value of evaluating every case with independence, fairness, diligence and thoughtful study of the law. No matter how complex the case, no matter how emotional or far-reaching, it all finally comes down to simply showing Justice for All.

You, the readers, can rest assured that I shall stay true to my lifetime creed of fairness and justice for every single litigant. Naturally, I seek your vote to allow me to continue my life's work from the bench. Whether you vote for me or not, however, I still thank you for taking the time to read this since it shows how vitally interested you are in the life of West Virginia, its future and its promise. It's because of people like you that our great nation works and will continue to thrive through any challenge.

McHugh, a Democrat, is an incumbent running for the state Supreme Court this fall against Republican John Yoder. The article originally appeared in The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington's daily newspaper.

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