Politics and Government

Second justice this month announces retirement from Minnesota Supreme Court

Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Margaret H. Chutich
Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Margaret H. Chutich asks questions during oral arguments at the Capitol in St. Paul in 2017. She plans to retire this coming summer.
Leila Navidi | Star Tribune pool via AP

After eight years on Minnesota’s highest court, Justice Margaret Chutich said Tuesday that she will retire this summer. Her announcement comes five days after Justice G. Barry Anderson said that he will retire in May.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Chutich to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2016 after she’d served for several years on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Chutich, 65, is the first openly gay state supreme court justice in Minnesota. Her last day will be July 31.

“Representation is important so that when students see someone like them having success, they will have confidence they can set high goals as well,” Chutich said in a statement released by the Judicial Branch.

Last week, Anderson announced that he’ll step down May 10 after serving since 2004. Anderson, who was named to the seven-member court by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, is the only remaining justice to have been appointed by a Republican governor.

The two departures are part of a sudden makeover of Minnesota’s highest court. There will be three new justices seated in less than a year and the chief justice, Natalie Hudson, was moved up to that role just last fall.

DFL Gov. Tim Walz told reporters Tuesday that he expects to fill both seats by this spring. It means that he will have appointed a majority of the justices on the seven-member court.

“The continuity and the stability of the Minnesota Supreme Court is probably as strong as any institution in this country,” Walz said. “I take a real sense of responsibility of making sure it stays that way."

Minnesota justices are usually appointed by governors and must stand for election every six years. But if a vacancy occurs at the end of a justice’s term, voters get to fill the seat. The last state supreme court justice to be directly elected was Alan Page in 1992.

So far Walz has appointed two supreme court justices, Gordon Moore III and Karl Procaccini, and elevated a third, Hudson, to chief justice.

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