New Minnesota chief justice no stranger to trailblazing
Natalie Hudson will be a trailblazing Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice in October as the first Black justice to hold that position. She started her court tenure by replacing another trailblazer, Alan Page, the first Black Minnesota Supreme Court justice.
“It is an amazing time and it’s so important that our community see people of color in positions of authority so that others behind us can know that that, too, is possible with hard work, that it’s possible for me as well,” Hudson said in an interview recorded for “At Issue with Tom Hauser.”
Hudson was first appointed in 2015 by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton before being appointed chief justice by Gov. Tim Walz in August. When she replaces outgoing Chief Justice Lorie Gildea as Gildea leaves the court, six of the seven justices will be appointees of Democratic governors, including Karl Procaccini, who Walz appointed to replace Hudson as an associate justice.
Hudson understands why some people will be concerned about that political imbalance on the court. However, she says the Minnesota Supreme Court has a history of being nonpartisan regardless of the court’s makeup.
“You can go back 20, 25 years, you’re going to see different makeups of the court. What you will find is our unanimity rate, we are unanimous between 70 and 75% of the time, and that’s been true for many, many years,” Hudson said. “And that is because of how we do our jobs. We are not partisan. That is maybe a small fraction of who we are as judges.”
Trailblazing is a big part of Hudson’s family history. Her late father, Don Hudson, was the first Black head coach at a predominantly white college when he coached at Macalester College in St. Paul in the 1970s.
“There were football players who wouldn’t play for him,” she says. “There were coaches who walked off. They would not play or coach for a black man, but he persevered. I must say though there were other white players and white coaches who did stay and that’s more what my dad talked about.”
Now, Hudson has persevered through her career to reach the pinnacle of Minnesota’s judicial branch of government.
“It’s just a tremendous honor,” she says. “I stand on the shoulders of many, many trailblazers before me.”
You can see the entire interview with Hudson on “At Issue with Tom Hauser” Sunday morning at 10 a.m. on KSTP-TV.