Chief Justice succession controversy in Louisiana now includes lawsuit
Louisiana: Justice Bernette Johnson has become proactive in her quest to serve as Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, filing a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The suit intends to block state Supreme Court justices from debating and voting on who has the legitimate right to serve as the head of Louisiana's judiciary following the retirement of Chief Justice Catherine Kimball.  
Justice Johnson and her supporters point out that the Section 6 of the Louisiana Constitution explicitly states:
|“||The judge oldest in point of service on the supreme court shall be chief justice.||”|
Having served since 1994, they argue that should be Johnson. The question is the circumstance in which she was appointed. Johnson joined the court through a settlement in a federal lawsuit in which it determined that the district method of electing justices of the Supreme Court violated the Voting Rights Act, since it dispersed the votes of African-Americans.  Though Johnson was a full-time member of the court at this time, some (including Justice Jeffrey Victory) argue the six years Johnson spent representing the now eliminated Eighth District does not count toward seniority.
Since she would be the first African-American Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, many believe that this debate has racial undertones as well. In fact, a collection of lawmakers in Louisiana has asked the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division to review the matter. 
The Justice Department's involvement would certainly help other public officials stay out of the melee. In filing the lawsuit, three judges who serve the Eastern District have already recused from the case: Jay Zainey, Ivan Lemelle and Carl Barbier.  Susie Morgan, the judge currently assigned to the case, joined the court following appointment by President Barack Obama in 2012. 
To learn more about the background in this case, read: Successor for Chief Justice Kimball an issue in Louisiana, June 15, 2012.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Washington Post, "La. Supreme Court justices sues to block debate, vote on naming next chief justice," July 6, 2012
- ↑ Reuters.com, "Black justice accuses colleagues of blocking her rise," July 9, 2012
- ↑ ABCNews, "Feds Asked to Review Debate Over La. Chief Justice," July 10, 2012
- ↑ The Times-Picayune, "3 federal judges recuse themselves from Louisiana Supreme Court justice's lawsuit," July 6, 2012
- ↑ Susie Morgan
|This article was written by Katy Farrell, the Editor of Judgepedia. She can be reached at email@example.com.|