Gov. Mark Dayton is preparing to make his second appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson, first appointed in 1994 by Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, is set to retire this spring when he reaches the court's mandatory retirement age of 70 in May.

During Anderson's time on the bench, the court has handled two statewide recounts, a series of constitutional cases, civil cases that are cited nationally. Anderson, whose opinions are marked with historic and literary references, also helped set up the court's redistricting process, which has largely been accepted as fair.

Over the years, Anderson said the court's jurisprudence has become more conservative.

"That puts me more on the center left than where I would have been to begin with," Anderson said.

Anderson, despite the authority of the black robe, has also been approachable on the bench and off it. He said when he was first invested at the state Appeals Court , he decided he would not retreat onto the bench.

"I decided good, bad or indifferent I would reach out," Anderson said. He has traveled the state, the country and the world to discuss judicial and civic issues.

Justice Paul Anderson, as the Supreme Court heard arguments over a voter ID case this summer

Justice Paul Anderson, as the Supreme Court heard arguments over a voter ID case this summer


Dayton, a Democrat, made his first mark on the court in September by appointing Appeals Court Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright to the court to replace Justice Helen Meyer.

Wright was among four finalists for the job this fall. Also on the list: attorney David Lillehaug, District Court Judge Tanya Bransford and Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich.

Anderson told Dayton that he would not recommend a single person as he replacement but did offer some characteristics of the right selection.

Among his criteria, he said he listed: someone who is curious, willing to explore the nuance of the law; imbued with empathy; who is willing to work hard; "loves language and understands the importance of language." The person, he told the governor,  should have both an open mind and enough humility to understand self doubt.

Although it is not required, Dayton asked the Commission on Judicial Selection to "aid in the review and selection process for this vacancy."

Dayton's office said: "The Commission on Judicial Selection and Governor Dayton are committed to seeking out individuals who possess great integrity, extensive legal knowledge, broad experience and a commitment to fairness."

Applications for the rare open Supreme Court spot are due by February 15.

Gubernatorial supreme court appointments do not require legislative approval but justices must stand for election before voters.


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