June 28, 2016

Dayton appoints Anne McKeig ’89 to Minnesota Supreme Court

Chief Justice Gildea, Judge McKeig, and Governor Dayton at the news conference announcing McKeig's appointment. Photo: Office of the Governor.

Governor Mark Dayton appointed the Honorable Anne McKeig ’89 as the next Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. McKeig is the first American Indian Justice to serve on the state’s highest court. She will replace Associate Justice Christopher Dietzen, who retires in August.

“Judge Anne McKeig has worked honorably to ensure justice for some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable people, with her strong dedication to Indian Child Welfare and her work leading the Fourth District Family Court,” said Governor Dayton in a press release.

“Judge McKeig will be a tremendous addition to the Minnesota Supreme Court. I trust that her commitment to justice, and her concern for the well-being of all Minnesotans will bring a unique and valuable perspective to the Court,” he added.

McKeig’s appointment also makes the Minnesota Supreme Court a female majority for the first time since 1991. Minnesota is only one of two states in the nation to have a female majority on its Supreme Court — the other is New York.

McKeig was appointed to the Fourth Judicial District Court in 2008 by then–Governor Tim Pawlenty. Before that, McKeig spent more than 15 years as a Hennepin County prosecutor in the Child Protection Division, where she specialized in Indian Child Welfare Act cases.

The youngest of the Supreme Court finalists, McKeig is a member of the American Indian Bar Association, and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation. She earned her J.D. from Hamline University School of Law in 1992, and her bachelor's degree in English from St. Kate's in 1989.

A foundation in liberal arts

Below is an excerpt from a February 2011 profile of McKeig by Andy Steiner in St. Catherine University Magazine:

Anne McKeig ’89 knew she wanted to be a lawyer from the time she was in ninth grade. “But I knew earning a liberal arts degree came first,” she says.

“Lawyers need to read, write and reason. So I figured an English degree would be the perfect complement.” McKeig also relished the opportunity to dive in to other disciplines, including French history, philosophy, theology and math.

“I believe my degree from St. Kate’s helped open doors for me,” she says. “People could see the benefit in the fact that I was a generalist, that I understood there was a world beyond the law. It gave me an edge over all the other candidates.”

In 1992, at only age 25, McKeig landed a prime position at the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, where she specialized in prosecuting child abuse cases. She held that position until 2008, when then-Governor Tim Pawlenty picked her to be a Hennepin County District Court judge.

Success stories like McKeig’s are no surprise to Dean Alan Silva. “At St. Kate’s, we’ve been doing liberal arts for a long, long time,” he says. “The liberal arts have always been relevant, and that is only clearer when the going gets tough. Our graduates don’t just survive. They thrive.”

Anne McKeig Anne McKeig. Photo: Office of the Governor.

By Sharon Rolenc