What happens if the Supreme Court gets a second majority-Black district?
Chief Judge John Michael Guidry will be ready.
Louisiana’s legislators have ended the first special session of the year for what is to be one purpose: to redraw the state’s six congressional districts and create a second majority-Black district. U.S District Judge Shelly Dick ordered the 144-member legislative body to design new district maps that allow for fair representation for Black voters who now make up a third of the state’s population. The deadline was Jan. 30.
Lawmakers also considered and passed bills that would end open primary elections and reconstitute the state’s Supreme Court. On Wednesday, Jan 17, representatives voted to move Louisiana elections from “open” primaries—where candidates from all parties compete— to “closed” elections where candidates would compete first within their parties. They also voted 94-10 to approve House Bill 8’s redistricting plan for the Court. Both votes have Landry’s support.
The bill maintains seven Louisiana Supreme Court districts but apportions each with equal populations of roughly 665,000 people. As a result, Districts 2 and 7 would have Black voting age populations of about 55% and 53%, respectively. In December, five of the justices signed a letter to lawmakers supporting the newly-proposed map with a second majority-Black district. However, Chief Justice John Weimer and Associate Justice Scott Crichton oppose the map. The bill passed in the Senate. It will go to the governor to sign it into law
Then, Louisiana residents will have the ability to elect a second Black judge, and, Baton Rouge Judge John Michael Guidry said he will be ready.
Guidry is the 15th Chief Judge of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal and the first Black Chief Judge in the court’s 100-year history. Earlier this month, Guidry shared his desired to join the Supreme Court.
On Facebook, he wrote:
If a second majority African American state Supreme Court seat is created and anchored in Baton Rouge, I will consider offering myself as a candidate. Why you ask? For the same reason I did so in 2012. In 2012 when no one else dared to, I challenged the status quo and ran for the highest court in our state, the Louisiana Supreme Court in a largely majority district and came within 4 percentage points of victory in the runoff. I did so and will consider doing so again because I believe so strongly in the intellect, integrity, fairness and unique life experiences that minority judges bring to the bench and how a diverse judiciary strengthens the rule of law and adds to the proper administration of justice. That is why I left the legislature and offered myself for service as a judge 26 years ago. I have been blessed to go as far as one can go on my court having become the first African American Chief Judge. That is why prior to leaving the legislature, as a freshman member of the House of Representatives, I joined members of the Legislative Black Caucus at the Governor’s Mansion as we secured the final agreement of the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State to settle the Clark lawsuit that created minority judgeships statewide. Then as a state senator, I passed legislation creating the minority judgeships on the Baton Rouge City Court because the consent decree did not cover the city court. That is why I have argued that the administration of justice would be improved by making my court more diverse by adding a second majority judge on a court where I am one of twelve. That fight is what the excerpt below from an article in todays Advocate newspaper is referencing. It is clear that now is not the time to become comfortable or complacent with the status quo. We must continue to do our part in the fight for Justice. From the city court to the state Supreme Court diversity will improve the administration of justice. This ongoing fight has been a big part of my life’s work and I will not stop fighting until victory is won!!!
Guidry graduated from McKinley Senior High School in 1980 and earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Louisiana State University and a juris doctorate from the Southern University Law Center.
He was a legislative assistant to the Rep. Joseph A. Delpit, assistant clerk of the Louisiana House of Representatives, and an assistant parish attorney. In 1991, he was elected to the House of Representatives to represent House District 67, then he was elected State Senator for District 14, prior to assuming the bench.