CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In a letter to legislative leaders state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he believes the legislature could override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of the fetal pain bill.

Morrisey told Senate President Jeff Kessler, House Speaker Tim Miley, Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall and House Minority Leader Tim Armstead his office has studied the state Constitution.

(Read Morrisey letter here)

“Because we have found no such clear statement in the Constitution that restricts the Legislature’s authority to override the Governor’s veto during a Legislative-initiated special session, it appears the Legislature retains this override authority,” Morrisey wrote.

Gov. Tomblin vetoed the fetal pain bill, which would have banned abortions in the Mountain State after 20-weeks of pregnancy, citing concerns about its constitutionality but pro-life supporters are calling for lawmakers to override the veto even though the regular legislative session ended weeks ago.

Attorney General Morrisey said on MetroNews Talkline Thursday the end of the regular session doesn’t bring the legislature’s authority to act on a vetoed bill to an end.

“It (state Constitution) sets forth different mechanisms to override the veto,” Morrisey said. “If you were to simply use the clock or the fact that the legislature has gone out of session to stop that constitutional function—I think that would be problematic.”

Morrisey did caution there’s really no precedent.

“To be clear, when you don’t have a specific case in place you have to always exercise caution because you can’t predict with certainty what will happen,” he said.

A legislative-initiated special session would a petition to the governor signed by a significant number of House and Senate members. That would be 60 delegates and 21 senators. Senate President Jeff Kessler previously said on MetroNews Talkline he would not be in favor of a legislative-initiated session.

Attorney General Morrisey said his office received several inquiries from lawmakers so they decided to research the issue.

“We’ve provided them with our best information on how this would occur,” Morrisey said.

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Comments

  • Stephanie Robinson

    Thank you Attorney General Morrisey! I hope that your input in pointing out the possibility and hopefully the probability that we can override Governor Tomblin's VETO of the fetal pain bill.

    Thank you for being true to your word and an honorable Attorney General for West Virginians.

  • wv4evah

    The AG may be correct that the State Constitution does not specifically prohibit the Legislature from voting to override a Gubernatorial veto during a special session, but lawmakers should remember that the law itself will be DOA. It will be overridden by the courts.

    The people who wring their hands over State budget shortfalls should realize how much taxpayer money they'll be wasting on this effort.

  • C. F. T.

    Morrisey, Thank You, Thank You for consistently taking a stand, stating your position and having the backbone to advocate.

    • garyk

      He didn't take a stand. he doesn't know for sure he said the state constitution is not clear. there is no prior case law to find guidance. Besides it's unconstitutional

  • liberty4all

    Unfortunately politics pervades everything these days. No matter which party holds the office, I believe certain elected positions should remain politically neutral - sheriff, prosecutor, and attorney general, for example (all law enforcement). Perhaps I am naive. But I don't think for a second there isn't political motivations behind Mr. Morrisey's coming out and putting pressure on the legislature to act. I also don't think it was motivated by "several inquiries from lawmakers". The time, energy, and money spent by our elected leaders is best directed to more pressing issues. I am pro-life but have always thought this bill nothing more than political pandering and a waste.

    • Rich

      Well said.
      In this case, even Wikipedia would have been a good research source. The term "sine die" means something. "A legislative body adjourns sine die when it adjourns without appointing a day on which to appear or assemble again.[2]
      It can be used in reference to legislatures whose terms or mandates are coming to an end, and it is anticipated that this particular body will not meet again in its present session, form, or membership.[3] A legislative body adjourned in this way may be called back into special session, a reason why sine die adjournment rather than dissolution may be preferred in some cases." It is an adjournment until the next session.

  • Michael

    He's an idiot. He needs to go back to New Jersey but before he goes, RELEASE YOUR EMAILS ON THE BIG PHARMA CASE!