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Other side of the ballot: Minnesota's Supreme Court race

Eric Chaloux
Updated: October 29, 2020 06:44 PM
Created: October 29, 2020 05:15 PM

Minnesota voters have a chance to decide who they want on the state Supreme Court in the November election.

Associate Justice Paul C. Thissen’s term is set to expire and he’s running to keep a seat on the seven-member court.

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The challenger on the ticket is West St. Paul lawyer Michelle MacDonald, who has run three times previously, including in 2014 when she earned 47% of the vote.

The governor appoints members to the Supreme Court when there is a vacancy but it’s up to voters to decide if the justice should remain on the bench for a six-year term, in the non-partisan election.

At a 'get-out-the-vote' event in Minneapolis Thursday morning, there was a table set up with campaign materials for Thissen.

"Who sits behind the bench makes a difference in their lives," Thissen said. “I think it's important to raise the profile of this race, in the last General Election in 2018, about 750,000 fewer Minnesotans voted for the Supreme Court race than the Governor’s race"

Before being appointed in 2018 by former DFL Governor Mark Dayton, Thissen, a lawyer, served in the Minnesota Legislature from 2003 through 2018, including as the Speaker of the House from 2013-2014.

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"It's another chance for me to serve Minnesotans, to make our law clearer and making sure everybody is getting a fair shake,” said Thissen. “To me, that's the biggest role of a judge that Minnesotans feel like and are getting a fair result."

On Robert Street in West St. Paul, you can see campaign signs for the other candidate in the race, MacDonald, when you pass her family law office.

"Right now, the bench is business as usual and that's got to change,” MacDonald said. “I'm running again because things haven't changed, things have actually gotten worse."

MacDonald has also been a Hennepin County small claims court judge from 1999-2014, family court adjunct referee from 1992 and founder of Family Innocence, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping families out of court.

“I'm running to stop corruption, to end legal tyranny and restore justice in the state of Minnesota,” MacDonald said.

Her law license was suspended by the state for 60 days for alleged professional misconduct, according to 2018 online records.

MacDonald said she was disciplined for speaking out about a judge.

"I'm the best candidate because I'm not afraid to speak out about the corruption in our courts," MacDonald said.

The last time a sitting justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court lost their seat was back in the 1940s, according to records.


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