Legislation to rename the federal courthouse in Minneapolis after the late Judge Diana Murphy, the first woman to serve on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and awaits President Donald Trump's signature.
The courthouse building at 300 S. 4th St. currently has no honorary designation.
Murphy spent 38 years as a federal judge, including five years as the chairwoman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. She began serving on the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in 1980 and served as chief judge from 1992 to 1994, when she was nominated to the appeals bench by President Bill Clinton.
Murphy had taken senior judge status on the Eighth Circuit in 2016 — a form of semiretirement for judges — but continued to work through April of this year. Murphy died in May at age 84 from long-term health problems.
Murphy "was a tireless advocate for putting more women on the bench," said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who sponsored the renaming bill in the Senate. "Judge Murphy stood up for others, and she did it with humor, joy and awe-inspiring achievement. She was a mentor and a friend, and this is a fitting tribute to a legal trailblazer."
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a Minnesota Republican and the sponsor on his side of the Capitol, said that "while dozens of courthouses in our state bear the names of impactful Minnesotans, the Minneapolis federal courthouse does not. Renaming it in Judge Murphy's honor would serve as a fitting tribute to her impressive legacy."
The state's other three federal courthouses all include names of notable Minnesotans:
• In St. Paul for former U.S. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, a native son of the capital city.
• In Duluth for Minnesotan Gerald W. Heaney, an Eighth Circuit appeals judge for nearly 40 years.
• In Fergus Falls for Edward J. Devitt, who was born in St. Paul and served in the U.S. House in the late 1940s before becoming a U.S. district judge.