Bar Buzz: Advocacy OK for ex-justices

We’ve seen it at least twice in recent years — former Minnesota Supreme Court justices taking to the stump to push political causes.

Most recently, former Justice Alan Page has teamed with Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari to push a constitutional amendment that would make “quality public education” every child’s right in Minnesota.

On Feb. 25, Page appeared with a few dozen lawmakers and allies at the Capitol to support a bipartisan bill to that effect. (Minnesota Lawyer will have more in-depth coverage of the amendment in the next edition.)

In 2018, former Justice Paul Anderson publicly supported candidate Keith Ellison when he was running for state Attorney General.

In private, a few of their former colleagues have expressed concern that ex-justices engaging in political activity tends make it more difficult for the court to appear unbiased to the public.

However, speaking on Feb. 25, Page said he has received no such push back from his former colleagues for working on the constitutional amendment. Nor does he see anything wrong with what he is doing—particularly now that he has been off the court for so long. Page left the Supreme Court in 2015.

“It shouldn’t be of a concern what justices do once they’re done,” Page said. “Particularly, here in Minnesota, where you’re required to leave the court. [Former] justices become actively involved in litigation, go back to practicing law. That’s just as much an advocacy position.”

As long as a former justice has the ability to advocate in the public sphere with integrity, he said, “I think you can do that.”

Page notes that when he ran for his Supreme Court seat, his motto was “Justice for All.” From where he stands, he said, his approach has not changed.  “It’s all about public service,” he said.

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