Education and career
In 1969, Traylor received a Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as Northeast Louisiana State University. He procured his Juris Doctor degree in 1974 from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans. Justice Traylor served as a judge of the Fifth Judicial District Court, Franklin, Richland, and West Carroll Parishes, from 1985 until his election to the Supreme Court.
Traylor served in the United States Army as a Military Police Investigator. He entered as a private and was honorably discharged two years later as a Sergeant E-5. While attending Northeast Louisiana State University, he was a Louisiana State Trooper, Troop F. He also served as an investigator for the Louisiana Department of Justice Organized Crime and Racketering Unit, and later on as the legal adviser to the Louisiana State Police Narcotics, Detectives and Intelligence units. From 1975-82, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in Franklin Parish.
Justice Traylor was a founding board member of the Winnsboro Economic Development Foundation and served as a board member of the Winnsboro's Lion's Club and of the Franklin Parish Mental Health Association. He was the first president of Winnsboro Ducks Unlimited and the founder of John Adams Chapter of Greenwings. He is a life member of the National Rifle Association and is a member of the Rocky Mountain Conservation Fund.
Chet Traylor contributed $50,000, or 15.83% of the total contributions, to his own campaign. His own contribution was the highest amount of the top twenty contributors to the campaign. In the economic interest breakdown, the top three contributers were:
- General Business contributed $80,747 (25.56%), Energy and Natural Resources contributed $33,075 (10.47%), and Construction contributed $27,250 (8.63%).
From that, the breakdown is as follows:
- Transportation, $26,150 (8.28%)
- Agriculture, $24,050 (7.61%)
- Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, $20,600 (6.52%)
- Health, $13,020 (4.12%)
- Communications and Electronics, $8,390 (2.66%)
- Republican Party, $3,500 (1.11%)
- Lawyers and Lobbyists, $2,750 (0.87%)
- Other/Retiree/Civil Servants, $2,450 (0.78%)
"The Louisiana constitution is the highest law by which the government of this state was established. As such, our constitution is not to be subject to judicial amendment to express whatever a majority of this court happens to conclude at any given time is the more enlightened viewpoint on a particular controversial issue. If our constitution can be judicially amended in such a manner, that constitutes government by the court, rather than government through a constitutional system of which this court is a separate and equal branch. To hold otherwise would be to allow any and all disaffected groups unable to obtain legislative redress need only convince a majority of this court that what they seek is an implicit ‘right’ afforded by the Louisiana Constitution. Our constitution wisely provides for separation of powers, and authorizes the legislature to make public policy determinations in this area.”
Hurricane damage lawsuits
Traylor wrote a 2008 decision for the court in which it determined that two state laws giving homeowners until the fall of 2007 to file lawsuits or claims against their insurance companies over damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita are constitutional. In the 7-0 opinion issued August 26, the Supreme Court noted that the extension is for just one year and is limited to those two hurricanes. Traylor's opinion says that while the change is a substantial impairment of terms of contracts between policyholders and insurers, as insurance industry attorneys had argued, the change "may be anticipated in this highly regulated industry." In the ruling, Taylor wrote that “the state has traditionally regulated insurance as a matter of public policy” and that as such, the court gives “considerable deference to the Legislature’s judgment” in tailoring laws to address post-hurricane needs. The ruling meant that homeowners, renters, condo owners, drivers with auto insurance and others with non-federal flood insurance policies were given until September 1, 2007, to file lawsuits resulting from Katrina damage and up to October 1, 2007, for Rita damage.
Traylor wrote the 5-2 decision of the court in 2000 that upheld the state's sodomy law, reversing a ruling by the state's court of appeals.
- Traylor's opinion says that "any claim that private sexual conduct between consenting adults is constitutionally insulated from state proscription is unsupportable," citing Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), which rejected a federal privacy challenge to Georgia's sodomy law. Traylor also contended that if particular conduct was truly consensual, it would be "impractical to enforce the statute against the participants," since they would have both participated in illegal acts and "there would be no victim to file charges and institute a prosecution."
- Louisiana’s sodomy law, also known as the “crime against nature” law, has been a part of the state’s jurisprudence for 195 years. The court ruled that the privacy clause in the state constitution does not protect what it called "immoral acts." “Simply put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society,” Justice Chet Traylor wrote for the majority.
The case arose from the prosecution of Mitchell Smith, who was charged with rape by a woman whom he "picked up" in a bar and brought to a motel to have sex. The trial judge found him to be a more credible witness than the alleged victim, and decided that the only sex that occurred was consensual. Nonetheless, consensual oral sex between adults in private in Louisiana is a felony, so the trial judge sentenced Smith to three years in prison, then suspended the sentence and imposed two years of probation. Smith appealed to the Louisiana 4th Circuit appeals court, which reversed his conviction, finding that the Louisiana constitution's express protection of an individual right of privacy made it improper to apply the state's sodomy law to non-commercial sexual conduct between consenting adults in private.
On the issues
Discrimination and equal protection
- Cook v. Cook (2007)
Justice Traylor concurred in the majority opinion of the Court, which concluded that a mother who exposed her children to her lesbian relationship was not entitled to keep custody of those children.
- State v. Bailey (2007)
Justice Traylor concurred in the majority opinion of the Court, which concluded a white district attorney should have recused himself from the prosecution of "The Jana 6," six African-American highschool students who attacked a white student, because his past behavior indicated a bias towards vigorous prosecution of blacks, and insufficient prosecution of whites.
- State v. Coleman (2007)
Justice Traylor concurred in the dissenting opinion of Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll. In doing so, he dissented from the majority opinion, written by Justice Bernette J. Johnson, which found that a prosecutor consciously and impermissibly took race into account where he, in a death penalty case with a black defendant who was convicted of first degree murder, failed to select a black juror who had filed a discrimination lawsuit against the state for "institutional discrimination."
- In re Justice of the Peace Alfonso (2007)
Justice Traylor dissented from the majority opinion of Justice John L. Weimer, which imposed a 30 day suspension on Justice of the Peace Myrty Alfonso for her extreme abuse of power in having a neighbor against whom she harbored ill-will arrested and incarcerated for a night without probable cause.
- State ex rel. A.T.(2006)
Justice Jeffrey P. Victory wrote the majority opinion for the court, which held, over the dissent of Justices Chet D. Traylor and Jeannette Theriot Knoll, that the State of Louisiana Department of Social Services was required to "make reasonable efforts to assist [a] parent in finding suitable housing before it may seek to terminate parental rights."
- Voicestream GSM I Operating Co., LLC v. Louisiana Public Service Commission (2006)
Justice Traylor concurred in the majority opinion of Justice Bernette J. Johnson, which held that a Government Agency Order requiring cell phone providers to pay into a fund for setting up rural phone service was a permissible "fee" rather than an unconstitutionally impermissible "tax," even though the eventual effect of these fees would be to pass on the costs to cell phone users rather than the general public.
Tax Increment Financing
- Board of Directors of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Gonzales, Louisiana v. All Taxpayers, Property Owners, Citizens of the City of Gonzales, Louisiana (2006)
Justice Traylor wrote a strong opinion dissenting from the majority opinion of Justice Catherine D. Kimball, which held that a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan (1) did not constitute a gratuitous handout, loan, or donation of public funds to a private entity where it used public funds to construct a retail development and accompanying infrastructure for Cabela's Retail Center; (2) could be funded through the issuance of municipal bonds pursuant to Louisiana's TIF statute; and (3) did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution where it handed out public funds to Cabela's, a private retailer, but not to already-existing, smaller local retailers.
- Denham Springs Economic Development District v. All Taxpayers, Property Owners, and Citizens of the Denham Springs Economic Development District (2006)
Justice Traylor concurred in the majority opinion, written by Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll, which held that (1) the government did not violate the due process rights, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, of local citizens by notifying them of a $50 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan for Bass Pro Shops only by mail, rather than by personal service, even though they were, as a group, easily identifiable; and (2)
- Deculus v. Welborn (2007)
Justice Traylor concurred in the majority opinion of Justice Catherine D. Kimball, which, over the dissent of Bernette J. Johnson held that, under Louisiana's Term Limits law, Article 3, Section 4(E) of the Louisiana Constitution, Democrat state senator Cleo Fields was precluded from running for re-election where he had been elected to finish the term of a resigned predecessor in office, and then elected to two subsequent terms, since he had served long enough to constitute the maximum "two and one-half terms," under Louisiana's term limits laws. In reaching this conclusion, the court explicitly refused to apply a statute, passed by the legislature, intended to circumvent Article 3, Section 4(E) of the Louisiana Constitution and keep Mr. Fields in office.
- Lacoste v. Pendleton Methodist Hospital, LLC (2007)
Over the strong dissenting opinion of Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll, the majority opinion, written by Justice Pascal Calogero, in which Justice Traylor concurred, held (1) that limitations on the legal liability of Lousiana healthcare providers, as set forth in the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act could be circumvented by an ordinary negligence cause of action; and (2) that such a cause of action was permissible where a New Orleans hospital lost power during Hurricane Katrina, resulting in the death of a patient on life support.
- ↑ New Orleans City Business "COMMENTARY: Fielkow passes on congressional races in favor of city" June 15, 2009
- ↑ Project Vote Smart: The Voter's Self-Defense System
- ↑ Follow The Money Website
- ↑ The Berkeley Electronic Press
- ↑ National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
- ↑ Queer Resources Directory
- ↑ Concerned Women for America
|Former||James Dennis • John Fournet • Pascal Calogero • Chet Traylor • Edward Douglass White • Catherine D. Kimball • Revius Ortique, Jr. • Albert Tate, Jr. • Peter Beer •|