Conversations about Justice
23rd July 2012 · 0 Comments
The conversation probably went something like this:
Justice “Bad Kitty” Kimbal: I’m looking forward to stepping down as chief justice. It’s going to be good.
Aide: But there is one problem, according to the long-established rule, the most senior justice will step in. Do you know who your successor would be?
Kimball: No, but they are all qualified. Who are you talking about?
Aide: Bernette Johnson!
Kimball: But isn’t she rather…um…
Aide: Yes! And the rules say she is definitely next in line.
Kimball: Then I guess it’s time to change the rules, don’t you?
Satire aside, however the conversation(s) went, and whomever was involved, the decision to change the rules regarding succession to the position of Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court will leave its mark on this state for a long time to come.
It’s the conflict that does not have to be. It’s tangible proof that racism not only exists, but is an overriding principle at even the highest levels of the government of this state.
It’s also the action that will define the career of Chief Justice Catherine “Kitty” Kimball who has decided to use her considerable power to alter the course of succession to hinder or prevent the ascension of Justic Bernette Johnson to the highest judicial office in the state. Of course, she will deny that race is an issue.
She and her ilk might also deny that her action directly violates the spirit of the Voting Rights Act and the Chisom v Roemer Decision that created a way for there to ever be a Black Justice. There is little integrity among today’s racists…and less courage.
In a system that normally uses precedents to inform decisions, Kimball has assumed the right and authority to change the rules and implement an unprecedented process for succession. This alone should spark concern, questions, conversations and action from even conservatives who place any value on law, fairness or justice.
From whence does the Chief Justice derive the power to singlehandedly alter the rules of succession and the power to recuse other justices from the process of resolving a procedural question, no matter how bogus?
Who does the state Supreme Court answer to when a chief justice breaks, disregards or alters the law?
What makes it worth it to Kimball and others to take an unnecessary action that will further divide this state along racial lines and cost taxpayers lots of money? It will be your tax dollars fighting that battle especially if it has to be fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kimball and those standing with her should be publicly denounced by the people of this state. They must also be stopped from using modern versions of the new jellybean jar, the grandfather clause and other ridiculous measures designed to ensure that Black people are not treated as equals in this nation.
This article originally published in the July 23, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.