Justice Bernette Johnson filled a seat on a state appeals court when voters elected her in 1994. Soon after, she was assigned to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court when the federal government created an eighth Supreme Court district for New Orleans. The additional district was created to remedy a system that was biased against African Americans. The voting districts for justices were allegedly gerrymandered to prevent African Americans from being elected to the state’s highest court.
Justice Johnson filled the eighth seat until 2000, when the court reverted back to seven justices, and she was elected again.
Justice Jeffrey Victory believes those prior years should not count towards her seniority and he should succeed current Chief Justice Catherine “Kitty” Kimball, who will retire next year.
Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., supports Justice Johnson. In a statement, she said, “Justice Bernette Johnson has served honorably on our Supreme Court for nearly two decades. Upon the retirement of Chief Justice Kitty Kimball, Justice Johnson will have served on the Supreme Court longer than any sitting justice.”
Justice Johnson also has the NAACP on her side. The organization passed an emergency resolution backing her claim to become chief justice.