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Learn More About Minnesota

Minnesota is known as the “Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.”  Many beautiful tourist spots include attractions boasting beautiful parks, wilderness and water.  It is the twenty-first most populous state in the U.S.

Minnesota is a very cultured area with a love for the arts.  Perhaps this is why it has been home to some famous names in the music industry.  Celebrities such as Prince, The Andrews Sisters group, Eddie Cochran of Rockabilly, Bob Dylan, The Trashmen, The Castaways, songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Jonny Lang have all called Minnesota home.

However, there is more to Minnesota than just the arts.  In fact, the state has a very strong legal force.  Minnesota’s first court was built in 1862, and there are now almost 100 courts within the state. There are 314 judges in Minnesota, with salaries ranging from $120,000 to $160,000. All Minnesota judges are elected in general elections, with vacancies filled by the governor.

Minnesota is also home to over 20,000 lawyers. Minnesota attorneys must pass a vigorous bar examination, prove themselves of good moral character, and have a JD or LL.B degree from an ABA accredited law school. License to practice is regulated by the state court system and membership in the state bar association is not mandatory.

Several landmark cases that have shaped the history of the United States either began in Minnesota or were litigated there. In 1857, the Supreme Court made their now infamous ruling in Dredd Scott v. Sanford. Dredd Scott had previously resided in Minnesota, or the Wisconsin territories as it was known at the time. The area had formally abolished slavery in the mid 1800’s. Upon leaving Minnesota however, Dredd Scott was enslaved. He petitioned for his release, claiming that his residence in a free state emancipated him and he could not legally be enslaved again. The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that no slave owner could be deprived of their “property” without due process, and that presence in a freed state did not make one free. The case was later overruled by the 13th amendment to the United States.

Minnesota also had an integral part in shaping American 1st amendment law. In the 1900’s, a Minnesota law that made publishing “scandalous” or defamatory material illegal was frequently used to silence newspapers that were critical of local politicians. The case of Near v. Minnesota overturned the law as unconstitutional, establishing the important constitutional principle against prior restraint.

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