Historic: Native Woman Appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton yesterday announced the appointment of Judge Ann McKeig to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
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Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton yesterday announced the appointment of Judge Anne McKeig to the Minnesota Supreme Court. McKeig, a descendant of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, is the first American Indian woman to be appointed to the state’s highest court. Notably, for the first time since 1991, the majority of the seven-member court is comprised of women.

A graduate of the College of St. Catherine and the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, McKeig will replace retiring Justice Christopher Dietzen upon his retirement at the end of August. Before yesterday’s appointment, she served as District Court Judge in the Fourth Judicial District. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Hennepin County Attorney specializing in Indian Child Welfare cases.

In an emotional press conference this afternoon, McKeig recalled attending the swearing in of Justice Robert A. Blaeser, the first?and longest serving?Native American judge appointed to the Minnesota District Court Bench. Blaeser retired in 2012 after serving 17 years on the bench.

“I didn’t know him, but he was a White Earth member,” she said, choking back tears. “And I, a proud descendant of White Earth Nation, knew that if he could do it, that maybe I could... It’s people like him who led the way, [who] have allowed for others like me to dare to dream.”

In his remarks, Governor Dayton thanked Justice Dietzen for his “dedicated service to the State of Minnesota,” and said that in appointing McKeig, he had looked for experience, excellence, proven commitment to public service and compassion.

“Judge Anne McKeig has served the people of Minnesota admirably throughout her distinguished career, including as Presiding Judge of the Family Court in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District. [She] has worked honorably to ensure justice for some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable people, with her strong dedication to Indian Child Welfare and her work leading the Fourth District Family Court,” Dayton said.

“Judge McKeig will be a tremendous addition to the Minnesota Supreme Court. I trust that her commitment to justice, and her concern for the wellbeing of all Minnesotans will bring a unique and valuable perspective to the Court. I am confident Judge McKeig will continue the same exemplary commitment to fairness and excellence that Justice Dietzen has displayed throughout his distinguished career.”

According to the Governor’s communications office, McKeig’s appointment does not require confirmation by the Minnesota Senate, but will have to stand for reelection in 2018.

“I thank Governor Dayton for the honor of continuing my service to the people of Minnesota as an Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court,��� McKeig said. “I am humbled by the opportunity to continue working to deliver justice for all Minnesotans in this important role.”