Minnesota Supremes: still mostly white and mostly male

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has had four chances to make the Supreme Court look more like Minnesota. He’s passed on the opportunity, naming three white men and a white woman to the state’s highest court, meaning the demographic makeup of the court is no different now from when Pawlenty first was elected in 2002. There are five men and two women. Justice Alan Page remains the only person of color on the court.

Pawlenty’s first appointment, in 2004, was G. Barry Anderson, who replaced James Gilbert. After chief justice Kathleen Blatz retired, Pawlenty promoted associate judge Russell Anderson to chief justice on January 11, 2006, and named Lorie Gildea to the court.  On Nov. 27, 2007, Pawlenty selected a friend, Christopher Dietzen to the court, replacing Sam Hanson. And earlier this month, Pawlenty appointed another friend, Eric Magnuson, to replace Russell Anderson as chief justice.

The late Rudy Perpich made history in his Supreme Court appointments. The former DFL governor named the first woman, Rosalie Wahl, to Minnesota’s highest court in 1977. By the time he was voted out of office — he lost to Arne Carlson in 1990 — Minnesota had become the first state in the country with women in the majority.

Minnesota hasn’t had a DFL governor since Perpich.

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