Dayton appoints first American Indian to Supreme Court

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton named Anne McKeig to the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday, putting the first American Indian judge on the state’s highest court in a pick that also gives the seven-member bench a female majority.

A descendant of White Earth Nation, McKeig has served as a Hennepin County District Judge since 2008, including serving as presiding judge of its family court. Tears streaming down her face, McKeig recalled watching the swearing-in ceremony of the state’s first judge from White Earth in 1995, calling it an inspiration that enabled her own career trajectory.

“It is people like him and his wife who have led the way that have allowed for others like me to dare to dream,” she said of Robert Blaeser, who served nearly two decades in Hennepin County District Court. “Today is a historic day not only for myself and for my family but for all native people.”

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McKeig’s appointment further bolsters the diversity of the Supreme Court that Dayton has dramatically altered since taking office in 2011. Of the five justices Dayton has named — including Wilhelmina Wright, who assumed a federal judgeship this year — four have been women. Two were black women, and Dayton named the state’s first openly gay Supreme Court justice, Margaret Chutich, earlier this year.