Friday, June 27, 2008

Justice Revius Ortique, Jr.

Justice Revius Ortique, Jr., a civil rights lawyer and the first African-American justice elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, passed away on Sunday, June 22, 2008. He is survived by his wife, Miriam Marie Victorianne Ortique, a daughter, Rhesa Marie McDonald; and three grandchildren.

Justice Ortique was born in New Orleans and served four years as an Army officer during World War II. He earned a bachelor's degree from Dillard University, a master's degree from Indiana University and a law degree from Southern University in 1956. As a civil rights attorney in the 1950s and 1960s, he led efforts in the state to integrate labor unions and represented black workers in lawsuits seeking pay equal to their white counterparts.

In 1957, he, along with other leading black lawyers established the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society to address the biases against minority attorneys in the state. 1958, Ortique was elected to the first of five terms as president of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. A year later, he was elected president of the National Bar Association, an association of black lawyers and judges. He served three terms as president of the Community Relations Council, a biracial group in New Orleans.

In the mid-1960s, when Ortique led the National Bar Association, he lobbied President Lyndon Johnson to appoint black judges to the federal bench. Johnson later nominated Thurgood Marshall, who became the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1978, the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed Justice Ortique to a seat on the Civil District bench pro tempore. In 1979, he was elected to the Civil District Court bench, and was re-elected, without opposition, in 1984, and he was elected chief judge two years later.

He was the first black member of the Louisiana State Bar Association's House of Delegates.

In 1992, Justice Ortique was elected to the bench of the Louisiana Supreme Court until 1994 when he reached the mandatory retirement age. He was appointed by five U.S. presidents to various commissions and boards. He was chairman for eight years of the New Orleans Aviation Board after being appointed by Mayor Marc Morial.

Justice Ortique had been a lifelong New Orleanian, until he and his wife, moved to Baton Rouge following Hurricane Katrina. They had planned to return when repairs to their home were complete.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear this. We just watched Journey for Justice again the other day and always found the interviews with Justice Ortique very enlightening.

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

thanks for teaching me something today