Honorable Revius O. Ortique, Jr.
the first African-American to be elected to theLouisiana Supreme Court
History will record that the Honorable Revius O. Ortique, Jr. was the first African-American to be elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, serving from 1992 until his retirementin 1994. But facts alone cannot adequately recount the depth and breadth of Justice Ortique’s impressive decades-long professional career and his far-reaching impact on the future of the legal profession.
A native of New Orleans, Justice Ortique was born on June 14, 1924, to Revius, Sr. and Lillie Long Ortique. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Dillard University in 1947 and a master’s degree from Indiana University in 1949. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Southern University Law Center in 1956 — stepping onto the legal scene at a time of extraordinary social change.
Justice Ortique contributed significantly to the civil rights movement in Louisiana during the 1950s and 1960s, including the litigation of landmark cases that sought pay equity for African-American workers and secured equal voting rights for African-American residents in Bogalusa, La.
He played a significant role in founding the Louis A. Martinet LegalSociety of Louisiana in 1957. On the national legal stage, he served two terms as president of the National Bar Association in the 1960s and served as the first African-American president of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in the 1970s.
In 1973, he was the first African-American to be elected to the Louisiana State Bar
Association’s House of Delegates and worked with the LSBA’s Legal Aid Committee to provide a model for pro bono legal work.
In 1986, he received the LSBA’s first-ever Pro Bono Lifetime Achievement Award for his service.
His judiciary service began in 1978 when he was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court as a judge pro tempore of Orleans Parish Civil District Court. In 1984, he became the first African-American judge elected to that court and was re-elected without opposition.
His Photos ..Property of the History makers
Five United States Presidents appointed Justice Ortique to national civic positions. President
Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the Federal Hospital Council in 1966. President Richard Nixon appointed him to the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest in the early 1970s in the wake of violent episodes at Kent State University and Jackson State University.
President Gerald Ford appointed him in 1976 to the board of the Legal Services Corporation
and President Jimmy Carter reappointed him in 1979. In 1999,
President Bill Clinton named him as an alternate representative to the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Following his retirement from the Louisiana Supreme Court bench, he continued to mentor attorneys with lectures at continuing legal education seminars.
Justice Ortique died on June 22, 2008. He is survived by his wife, Miriam Victorianne Ortique, his daughter, Rhesa M. McDonald, three grandchildren and several relatives and friends.
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