MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia University law professor said he sees nothing in West Virginia’s Constitution that prohibits the Legislature from reconvening in a special session to override a gubernatorial veto.

“There’s no time limit in the override provisions of when the Legislature has to do it by and there’s no specification it has to do it during a regular session or during a special session called by the governor,” said Bob Bastress, a professor of U.S. constitutional law and West Virginia constitutional law.

Supporters of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed last week, are putting pressure on leaders of the state Senate and state House of Delegates to override that veto of HB 4588, a ban on abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy.  The argument has been an unborn child or fetus can feel pain at that point in development.

Such an override vote can only be taken when lawmakers are in session and, currently, they are not.

Since it’s unlikely Tomblin will call a special session to allow for reconsideration, those with West Virginians For Life and their supporters are, instead, looking to a provision in the state Constitution that says a governor must call a special session if three-fifths of members of both the state Senate and state House of Delegates petition for it.

“There’s nothing in the Constitution, in my opinion, which would preclude that,” said Bastress.  “Although I would have to say that the safer route for them would be to reenact the bill and then stay in session (awaiting a veto).”  Bastress said lawmakers could recess, but not adjourn, pending action from the executive branch before taking an override vote to make the bill law.

Although such a move would be rare, Bastress said it would speak to the balance of power.

“The Constitution, in both veto provisions, specifically recognized the opportunity for a veto and, if the Legislature can’t convene itself to do that, then you’re depriving the Legislature of that opportunity,” he said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Most often, bills vetoed because of mistakes are taken up in a special session a governor calls, corrected and passed again with little controversy.  However, in his veto message, Tomblin seemed to reject the entire fetal pain bill on its merits — calling it unconstitutional and unduly restrictive to the physician-patient relationship.

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  • Jamie

    My daughter had a beating heart and basic nervous system at 6 weeks old. SIX WEEKS! How can anyone make a logical argument that an abortion at even six weeks, much less 20 is nothing short of murdering an innocent human child. Abortion supporters are either uneducated in fetal development, so far depraved of any human emotion that they refuse to see the facts, and/or are simply lying to themselves by calling the child nothing more than a ball of cells that can't feel anything, so they can feel better when they walk out of the clinic after killing their child. Period. Sorry. A beating heart and nervous system = human being!

  • Matthew

    See what I mean?

  • Aaron

    The Legislature has to have a means to override veto's or their is no balance of power. That is what this topic of conversation is about, not the bill itself.

  • Matthew

    Ah yes, the "I can do whatever I want crowd" is in the house! Folks, you have no right to kill a human life! I will only support the aborting of a fetus in very specific circumstances. Abortion should not be used as birth control. There has been a clear correlation between the legalization of abortion and the moral decline of this country. We spend too much time talking about rights and so little time about what is actually right!

    • Wes

      Matthew, how does one quantify "moral decline" and then how does one correlate that specifically to abortion?

  • Voter

    It seems in 1973 abortion was a serious decision by a select few. Now days, it's another form a birth control for these people. How about using your birth control before you have to kill a baby.

  • Charles

    This would be one of the dumbest things they ever tried to do and we're talking about politicians so that is pretty bad.

    Abortion was settled in 1973. Let's move on.

    • Jason

      Yes based on 1973 science, we haven't learned anything since then. Let's see in 1973 there were no ultrasounds, sonograms, ... You are right the judges knew enough then to make an eternal decision. Yes, yes let's move on and ignore science.

      • Chris

        Ultrasound was invented in the 1950's.