Home » State wants to do away with agreement that led to Black justice on once all-white Supreme Court

State wants to do away with agreement that led to Black justice on once all-white Supreme Court

by The Grio

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 1992 federal court agreement that led to a Black justice being elected to Louisiana’s once all-white Supreme Court is no longer needed and should be dissolved, an assistant to the state’s attorney general told a federal appeals court Monday.

The case pits Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is running for governor, against voting rights advocates and the U.S. Justice Department. Former state Chief Justice Bernette Johnson has also filed briefs opposing Landry’s position, as has term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who leaves office next year.

Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Murrill told the appellate judges the agreement, which effectively maintains federal court oversight over a state Supreme Court election process, is no longer needed.

“There is nothing that remains to be done,” Murrill said, noting the agreement has resulted in a seat on the high court being held by a Black judge for the past three decades. They include current Justice Piper Griffin, who began a 10-year term.

Judge Carl Stewart noted voting rights activists’ fears that, in absence of the agreement, the state could revert to a system that divides New Orleans and again dilutes Black voting power.

“It’s possible,” Murrill said. “Is it likely? It’s highly unlikely.” Even without the agreement, she said, the state would be bound by federal voting law and its own laws enacted to comply with the agreement. Landry’s office has also noted there was no attempt in a redistricting session last year to do away with the existing mostly Black district.

Attorneys for the original plaintiffs in the voting rights case and the U.S. Justice Department said the state has presented no evidence to show it would not revert to old voting patterns that denied Black voters representation on the state’s highest court.

“There is no map, there is not data,” argued attorney Leah…

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