- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton elevated Appeals Judge Natalie Hudson to Minnesota’s Supreme Court on Tuesday in a pick that maintains diversity in the top ranks of the state judiciary.

The Democratic governor announced his selection to fill the seat coming open because of Justice Alan Page’s retirement. Hudson, who like Page is black, has been a member of the Court of Appeals since her 2002 appointment by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura and will move up the ladder sometime this fall.

It is Dayton’s third Supreme Court appointment. He said that achieving ethnic and gender diversity among state judges is important to him.

“Her qualifications in her own right are just absolutely outstanding and her interview with me directly was outstanding so I don’t want to infer this was a position where she was selected because she is a person of color,” Dayton said. “That was certainly one of the overall considerations I think is important for the court.”

Standing beside her husband and mother, Hudson, 58, said she was humbled by the opportunity.

“The issues that come before the Supreme Court are complex and not always easily resolved,” she said. “But I promise to do what I have always done as a judge and that is to read the record carefully, read the briefs carefully and listen carefully at oral argument to be as prepared as I can possibly be. And most of all, to treat all of those who come before our court with the utmost respect and dignity they deserve.”

Before joining the bench, Hudson worked in the state attorney general’s office, as city attorney for St. Paul, in private practice and as assistant dean at Hamline University School of Law. Her law degree is from the University of Minnesota and she has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State.

Minnesota justices don’t stand for legislative confirmation but periodically must face voters, although serious challenges to incumbents are rare. Hudson won re-election in 2004 and 2010.

Dayton interviewed three finalists forwarded to him by a special screening panel. All are women.

There are two women currently on the seven-member court including Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, but Justice Wilhelmina Wright is awaiting confirmation to a federal judgeship and could depart soon. Dayton put Wright on the panel in 2012.

Before he leaves office in 2018, Dayton will have a chance to appoint a majority of the court because Justice Christopher Dietzen reaches the retirement age of 70 in March 2017.

Hudson’s selection creates an opening on the Court of Appeals, which Dayton will also fill.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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