After Two Court Orders, Louisiana May Finally Get Its First Black Chief Justice
A federal district judge rejected this weekend a racially charged challenge to a Louisiana Supreme Court justice’s seniority that has threatened Justice Bernette Johnson’s path to becoming the court’s first black chief justice.
Johnson, who was appointed to the court as part of a settlement over civil rights violations under the Voting Rights Act, has been serving on the court longer than any other judge, and was prepared under the state’s seniority system to take on the court’s top spot when Chief Justice Catherine Kimball retires. An eighth seat was initially added to the court to address racial disparities. Even today, Johnson is the only black Supreme Court justice in a state in which nearly one third of residents are black. But because the state Constitution capped the number of justices at seven, Johnson was appointed to the appellate court, though she served as a member of the high court for her entire tenure.