West Virginia has a bicameral legislature, comprised of the Senate and the House of Delegates. West Virginia has a citizen’s legislature; as such, the legislative office is a part-time position, and many West Virginia legislators also hold full-time jobs.
West Virginia’s courts of general jurisdiction, or circuit courts, are divided into 31 circuits. Judges sitting on these courts are elected for eight-year terms. The highest court in West Virginia is called the Supreme Court of Appeals, and is comprised of five justices who are elected for 12-year terms. Although the West Virginia Constitution permits the Legislature to create an intermediate court of appeals, it has never done so. West Virginia and 11 other states have only one appellate court, and no intermediate court of appeals. West Virginia is also among a minority of US states in that it has not adopted the death penalty
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West Virginia is an alcoholic beverage control state. Most control states hold a monopoly over multiple categories of alcoholic beverages; however, West Virginia only exerts control over the wholesale distribution of distilled spirits.
A case originating in West Virginia had an important impact on the Civil Rights Movement. In the1880 case of Strauder v. West Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a West Virginia law prohibiting non-whites from serving as jurors. The Court held that excluding non-whites from jury service based solely on their race violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause; specifically, the law violated the rights of non-white criminal defendants whose juries could not include non-white persons.
Another West Virginia law was challenged in the High Court in 1943. In West Virginia v. Barnette, the Court struck down as unconstitutional a state policy mandating teachers and students salute the American flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Barnette held that the First Amendment protects citizens from being forced to “confess by word or act their faith” in matters of opinion.
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These websites house more information on West Virginia law and policy: