CONTACT PERSON: VALERIE WILLARD
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
| MAY 7, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the Cabildo’s Sala Capitular, the court’s home from 1853 -1910. The temporary change in venue commemorated two important dates in the state’s legal history, the bicentennial of Louisiana’s statehood and the establishment of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1813, as well as Law Day 2012.
“Today’s sitting in the Cabildo marks the beginning of our commemoration of the Bicentennial of the first sitting of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Several events are scheduled during the upcoming year, culminating in a ceremony at the Royal Street courthouse on March 1, 2013, exactly 200 years after the Louisiana Supreme Court first convened. Today is the first time the Court has sat in the Cabildo since 1910. The justices and I are proud to be a part of this historic occasion,” Chief Justice Catherine D. “Kitty” Kimball said.
After 30 years of being housed in the Presbytere, the Cabildo became the site of the Louisiana Supreme Court---particularly the Sala Capitular which served as the courtroom. The Cabildo was the court’s home at the time New Orleans was designated the sole location of the Supreme Court in 1894. Prior to this, Supreme Court cases were heard in either New Orleans or Opelousas. Five justices sat on the Louisiana Supreme Court bench at that time rather than seven justices who sit on the Supreme Court bench today.
Several landmark cases were heard in the Sala Capitular including: the Myra Clark Gaines cases which focused on a women’s property rights and inheritance issues and remains the longest continuous litigation in U.S. history; the Slaughter House cases which involved the rights of private butchers to operate their trade; and, Plessy v. Ferguson, the civil rights case where Homer Plessy challenged the legality of racially separated railroad cars. The 1896 Plessy decision established the controversial “separate but equal” doctrine which remained in effect until 1954 when it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
A criminal case and a civil case were presented for oral argument during the Louisiana Supreme Court’s return to the Cabildo today.
Louisiana Supreme Court Bicentennial Observance at the Cabildo (video link)
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