Minnesota chief justice striving to be an advocate for change in historic role

Minnesota chief justice striving to be an advocate for change in historic role

Minnesota chief justice striving to be an advocate for change in historic role

The new leader of the Minnesota Supreme Court is diving into her new role that’s marking a historic first.

“The last two months have been a whirlwind, but in a good way,” Chief Justice Natalie Hudson said. “The job is enormous. It has tremendous responsibilities.”

Hudson took the role and made history as the first Black chief justice of the state court.

“Charles Hamilton Houston used to talk about lawyers being change agents in our society and I thought that’s what I want to do,” Hudson said.

But instead, Hudson went above and beyond by climbing to the pinnacle of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“I feel honored and blessed,” Hudson said. “I think it’s important for us to begin to normalize people of color in positions of authority so it’s not unusual to see that.”

She credits her parents for her success because of their education-first mentality that opened up a world of opportunity for Hudson.

“As African Americans, that was our ticket out,” Hudson said. “That was our ticket to middle class. That was our ticket to doing whatever it was we wanted to do to fulfill our dreams.”

Hudson explained she practiced law for about 20 years before she started to imagine herself on the other side of the bench as a judge.

“Many times the effects that the law had on Black people and people of color has been a negative one. We’ve been the subject of the law in many negative ways,” Hudson said. “But we’ve had very little to do with the development of the law.

That realization made Hudson strive to be a decision-maker and an advocate for change.

“I recognize the role that I play and I think it’s important for me to give voice to maybe some communities that have not always had a voice or a strong voice,” Hudson said.

She also plans to focus on additional funding for civil legal services, so the justice system is accessible and affordable to everyone.

Hudson stands on the shoulders of trailblazers before her like Justice Alan Page, the first African American on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“He’s been a tremendous mentor and supporter,” Hudson said. “There are many people that I know I owe a debt of gratitude to who mentored me and supported me in my journey as well as the many other allies.”

Now she hopes to inspire those who follow in her path.

“I want them to pursue their dreams and believe in themselves,” Hudson said. “Nobody’s going to give you anything, but if you’re willing to work hard, commit the time and get your education, it’s achievable.”