NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Louisiana Supreme Court has resolved a racially-tinged power struggle within its own ranks by ruling that its next chief justice should be Bernette Johnson. She will be the state's first black chief justice.
The court said Tuesday that Johnson's years of appointed and elected service give her the seniority to succeed Chief Justice Catherine Kimball early next year. Justice Jeffrey Victory, who is white, had argued that Johnson's appointed service shouldn't count and he deserved to be named chief justice.
Voters elected Johnson in 1994 to a seat on a state appeals court. She was assigned to the Supreme Court as part of settlement of an earlier lawsuit that claimed the system for electing justices diluted black voting strength and violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.