CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued an order denying Don Blankenship's attempt to continue on the ballot in November as a member of the Constitution Party.
The court considered the petition and other documents and heard oral arguments Aug. 29 before issuing the order later in the day. It said the full opinion will be released at a later date.
"Given the request for accelerated consideration and resolution of the issue as it relates to the preparation of the ballot for the 2018 general election, this Court issues its decision through this order with a detailed opinion to follow in due course," the order states.
The writ was denied, with the court noting that the West Virginia Secretary of State's (WVSOS) Office is ordered to take any measures necessary to make sure that Blankenship is not on the ballot in November.
With the recent retirement of Justices Menis Ketchum and Robin Jean Davis and the suspension of Justice Allen H. Loughry, there are three justices sitting on temporary assignment: Justices Alan D. Moats, Darrell Pratt and Paul T. Farrell.
"What is left of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia just ruled to uphold the Secretary of State’s decision to deny my access to the General election ballot," Blankenship said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record. "For those who believe in democracy, it is a frightening decision. Essentially, the Republican Party can now slander a candidate throughout the Primary, effectively denying that candidate an equal opportunity to win the nomination, and simultaneously pass a law in the middle of an election cycle which prohibits the slandered person from being on the General election ballot."
Blankenship said Americans desperately need to pay attention, as politicians continue to move voters to the sidelines and out of the election process. He and his attorneys will now be evaluating his next steps.
"I want to thank all of my supporters and those who believe in me and in our Constitution," Blankenship said. "We can only hope that someday the movement toward a politician-controlled electoral process reverses course. The Court’s decision is good for my family and for me personally. However, we regret not being able to help all West Virginians—particularly the unborn and the drug-addicted."
WVSOS Mac Warner said the decision is a victory for his office and all the state’s local election officials preparing for the November election.
"This decision puts the issue to rest and allows voters going to the polls to know with certainty who will be on the ballot," Warner said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record. "The Court’s decision also validates the ‘sore loser’ law ending any chance for those candidates thinking they will have endless bites at the same apple."
Warner said he wanted to personally thank Marc Williams and his colleagues for their dedication in defending the case to the finish.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said there are now no more distractions for Joe Manchin to hide behind for the remainder of the election cycle.
West Virginia Republican Party (WVGOP) Chairwoman Melody Potter said the WVGOP applauded the Supreme Court for quickly resolving the issue.
"Our focus is on electing Attorney General Patrick Morrisey," Potter said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record. "Just like President Donald Trump said last week in Charleston, it's time for Sen. Joe Manchin to go and West Virginians need to elect Patrick Morrisey. That is our focus."
The state Legislature passed a bill in March that addressed ambiguities in the previous law that was in effect. The new law went into effect June 5.
Blankenship's attorney, Robert Bastress Jr., argued in Blankenship's petition that since elections occur in cycles and not in one day, the law that went into effect mid-cycle should not apply to the current cycle, but the next cycle.