Two appointees named to Minnesota Supreme Court

On Monday, Governor Tim Walz named two women to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which will give the state’s highest court its first female majority in three decades. When they take their seats in the coming months, all seven justices will have been appointed by Democratic governors. Walz elevated Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Theodora Gaïtas and 7th District Chief Judge Sarah Hennesy during an announcement was made from the Capitol rotunda.

In January, Justice G. Barry Anderson announced he would be retiring after serving for almost 20 years on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Justice Margaret Chutich announced her retirement after serving on the Minnesota Supreme Court for eight years. Gaïtas will be replacing the Honorable Margaret H. Chutich and Hennesy will be replacing the Honorable G. Barry Anderson.

“I am honored to appoint Judge Gaïtas to the Minnesota Supreme Court,” Governor Walz said in a press release. “She is a remarkable jurist who has served at all levels of our judiciary. Her understanding of the complexities of our judicial system will make her an excellent addition to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

Chief Justice Natalie Hudson welcomed both Hennesy and Gaïtas to the Supreme Court.

“Both are experienced, well-respected jurists who bring exceptional intellectual gifts and a deep commitment to serving the people of Minnesota,” Hudson said in a statement. “This is a great day for Minnesota.”

Gaïtas has been on the Court of Appeals since Walz appointed her in 2020. She previously served as a district judge in Hennepin County.

Hennesy is chief judge of the 7th Judicial District in central and western Minnesota and is based in St. Cloud. She’s been on the bench since 2012.

Chutich, the first gay justice on court, was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2016. She plans to step down July 31.

Anderson, the longest-serving justice on the court, plans to retire May 10. He is the sole remaining appointee on the court of a Republican governor. He was named in 2004 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the state’s last GOP governor.

Judge Gaïtas said she is grateful for the opportunity to serve the Minnesota Supreme Court. “I thank Governor Walz and his team for their trust in me,” Judge Theodora Gaïtas said in a release. “As an associate justice, I will strive to apply the law fairly and justly for all Minnesotans.”

Gov. Walz also named Judge Sarah Hennesy to the Minnesota Supreme Court on Monday.

“It is my privilege to appoint Chief Judge Sarah Hennesy,” Governor Walz said in the release. “Not only is she a brilliant legal mind with extensive judicial experience, but she is a leader who knows how to move the needle towards justice.”

“I am profoundly honored to be selected to serve as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court,” Chief Judge Sarah Hennesy of the Seventh Judicial District in a statement. “I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the Governor and his team for entrusting me with this immense responsibility. As a justice of this Court, I will work collaboratively with my colleagues to interpret the law faithfully, uphold the Constitution, and ensure that justice is accessible to all Minnesotans.”

“As Chief Justice, I am pleased to welcome both Chief Judge Sarah Hennesy and Judge Theodora Gaïtas to the Minnesota Supreme Court,” said Chief Justice Natalie Hudson of the Minnesota Supreme Court. “Both are experienced, well-respected jurists who bring exceptional intellectual gifts and a deep commitment to serving the people of Minnesota. This is a great day for Minnesota.”

Even though Democratic appointees have long been in the majority, Minnesota’s Supreme Court is known for being nonpartisan — especially compared with neighboring Wisconsin’s divided state Supreme Court and an increasingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court. Judicial appointees in Minnesota do not need confirmation but must periodically go before the voters. Gaïtas and Hennesy will have to stand for election in 2026.

For more information about the judicial selection process, please visit the Governor’s Judicial Appointments webpage.