Legislation introduced today in the Minnesota Senate would authorize a bust of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun for display inside the State Capitol.
The bill would appropriate a yet-to-be determined amount of money for the Minnesota Historical Society to commission a bust, and install it alongside an existing bust of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. Blackmun and Burger were both natives of St. Paul.
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said his bill would pay proper tribute to a major historic figure.
“The fact that his bust is missing from the Capitol is noticeable,” Dibble said. “He should be honored just like we honor a number of other major figures from Minnesota, who’ve made such major contributions to our nation’s life.”
But the statewide anti-abortion group Minnesotan Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) quickly condemned the proposal, because of Blackmun’s prominent role in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In a news release, MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach urged lawmakers to reject the bill.
“Placing a statue of the individual who wrote the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized the killing of more than half a million unborn children in Minnesota is extremist and divisive,” Fischbach wrote. “The newly elected leadership in the Legislature has stated that they want to focus on jobs and education for the people of our state – not placing statues of extremists that divide Minnesotans in Capitol alcoves.”
A similar effort to honor Blackmun in 2000 was controversial, and ultimately unsuccessful.