The last time the Minnesota Legislature tried to honor one of the state's most famous jurists, it all ended in controversy.
The late Harry Blackmun was one of just three Minnesotans ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. But when the Legislature tried in 2000 to place a bust of Blackmun in the Capitol, near a similar bust of his childhood friend Chief Justice Warren Burger, the effort derailed in the face of protests from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.
In the end, lawmakers voted against honoring Blackmun, who authored the 1973 Roe. v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.
Now, there's a new push to bring Blackman's bust to the Capitol. And while the MCCL is again objecting, lawmakers from both parties say they don't see why the state shouldn't bring Blackmun into the ranks of notable Minnesotans whose statues and portraits fill the State Legislature.
"I don't have a feeling one way or the other," Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, told reporters Friday. "I didn't know there was a controversy over that. He's a Supreme Court justice. Where's the controversy?"
Asked if it was the first time he had countered the powerful anti-abortion organization, Hann said: "I don’t take my direction from the MCCL.”