The Louisiana Supreme Court announced that Bernette Johnson will be the court’s next — and first Black — chief justice, according to the Associated Press.
The historic moment almost never was as there were disputes with Chief Justice Cather Kimball and Justice Jeffrey Victory. While Johnson’s years of elected service gave her seniority over Kimball; Victory said the appointed service shouldn’t count, which would make him the next chief justice.
“Seniority — not election — is the ultimate criterion for succeeding to the position of chief justice,” the court said in the unanimous 23-page ruling, citing the state’s constitution, Bloomberg.com reported.
On July 12, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People passed a resolution to support Johnson’s high seniority claim.
While the resolution didn’t mention Johnson’s name; it did support the Chisom Consent Decree which “provided for the election of a Justice from a racial and ethnic minority majority voting district to serve on the Louisiana Supreme court with equal compensation, benefits, expenses and emoluments due a Justice to the Louisiana Supreme Court.”
Come 2013, a Black woman — supported by the NAACP — will fight for justice in Louisiana.