On Tuesday November 12, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota honored Justice Paul Anderson with its 17th Annual Earl Larson Award. The large reception, which included many current and former judges, honored Justice Anderson for his lifelong commitment to the defense of civil liberties.
Justice Anderson retired from the Minnesota Supreme Court in May 2013 after serving on it for over 19 years. Prior to his years on the court, Justice Anderson had spent a large part of his life in public service. He is known for his extensive work on international human rights issues and for his commitment to the protection of civil liberties.
Charles Samuelson, the Executive Director of the ACLU-MN, kicked off the evening by highlighting previous winners of the Earl Larson Award. Past Awards have gone to notable names including Walter Mondale, for his work organizing the states' Attorneys General in support of Mr. Gideon in the famous case, Gideon v Wainwright, and Peter Dorsey for his leadership role as president of the board at the ACLU-MN and for representing many of those called before the Committee on Un-American Activities.
Robin Wolpert, a former law clerk of Justice Anderson, introduced him and focused on the many important decisions he decided including Kahn v. Griffin, which created a roadmap to guide courts in determining when our State Constitution offers greater protection of our rights.
Cris Stainbrook, President of the ACLU-MN, presented Justice Anderson with the award. Stainbrook highlighted a wise quote that Anderson imparted before he left the bench. "Remember you are affecting human lives. Never, ever lose sight of that."
In his speech, Justice Paul Anderson mentioned many people who have supported him throughout his life and spoke of the trajectory of his career that made him who he is today. He credited his mother with raising him to have an open mind and ended with talking about the importance of the ACLU. His speech was peppered with personal stories and thoughtful reflection, including one where called out an elderly woman for being racist. After he shared that story, he connected it back to the ACLU by saying,
"That is what the ACLU is about, it speaks up. You know we can't remain silent in this society and not speak up."
His presence will be greatly missed on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
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