Jindal Asks Conservative Appeals Court To Reverse Order Promoting Louisiana’s First Black Chief Justice

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s lawyers filed an appeal Friday, drawing out the racially charged battle over whether state Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson has the seniority to become the next chief justice. Johnson, the longest-serving member on the court and the only black justice, is the presumptive candidate to become chief, and would become the first African American to serve in that position. But her colleagues challenged her status, claiming that her first six years serving the court as an appointee, pursuant to a Voting Rights Act court order to address racial discrimination, do not count toward her seniority. On appeal, Jindal’s lawyers argue that the state Supreme Court, not the federal court, should have the power to decide this issue — an argument rejected by the district court, and which Johnson’s lawyer called a throwback to the “states’ rights” arguments used by Southern states as a cover for racism.