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John Baptiste Fournet Passes Away

Today in Masonic History John Baptiste Fournet passes away in 1984.

John Baptiste Fournet was an American politician and jurist.

Fournet was born on July 27th, 1895 in St. Martinville, St. Martin Parish, Louisiana. He attended local public schools. On graduation he began teaching in a local one room schoolhouse. In 1915 he graduated from Northwestern State University, which at the time was called the Louisiana State Normal College. After graduation he returned to his teaching career, teaching in a variety of communities around Louisiana.

During World War I, Fournet enlisted in the United States Army as a private. He was stationed at two different bases in the United States and never left the country during the war.

In 1920, Fournet returned to college, attending the Louisiana State University (LSU) law school in Baton Rouge. While at LSU he was a standout football player. He graduated as president of his class. After graduation he returned to St. Martinville to practice law.

In 1928, Fournet was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. In the House he became an ally of Huey Long. In 1929, opponents of Long tried to have him removed as Speaker of the House. Fournet, despite being a freshman in the House, came to Long's defense. Fournet would himself go on to be the Speaker of House and Long returned to the House floor, Long had been elected Governor, to defend Fournet from an attempt to remove Fournet as Speaker of the House.

In 1931, Fournet was elected as Lieutenant Governor. He served until 1935 when he was elected, in a special election, to the Louisiana State Supreme Court.

During his time on the state Supreme Court, Fournet put partisan politics aside and worked to reform the Louisiana judicial system. At the time he was elected there was no court of appeals in Louisiana. Fournet saw to it that Constitutional changes were made to put the court into place. This helped to relieve a massive backlog in the court system in Louisiana. As a Supreme Court Justice he was involved in 17,500 cases. He wrote 1, 239 opinions with 1,043 were majority opinions. Only eleven of those opinions were ever reversed. He stopped serving due to a Constitutional constraint that caused him to retire in 1970.

Fournet passed away on June 3rd, 1984.

Fournet was a member of Albert Rousseau Lodge No. 301 in St. Martinville, Louisiana. He was also a member of Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction and Jerusalem Shrine Temple of New Orleans.