New court justice is the right choice

by Daily Editorial Board

Judge Margaret Chutich made history last week when she became the first openly gay member of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who had previously appointed Chutich to the state Court of Appeals in 2011, said Chutich’s sexuality had nothing to do with her promotion. However, he did acknowledge the historic significance of her ascension to the Supreme Court.
Chutich herself has emphasized the importance of maintaining a judicial body which represents the community it serves, speaking about the symbolism of her appointment. 
We congratulate Judge Chutich for her appointment, which will help to make Minnesota’s highest court more representative of the state’s population. Furthermore, her promotion is a weighty symbolic victory for the LGBT community. 
At the same time, however, we feel that to focus solely on Chutich’s sexuality overlooks the professional credentials which earned her a place on the Supreme Court and risks typifying her as “Minnesota’s first openly gay Supreme Court justice” rather than “another qualified member of the Supreme Court.” 
In the past, Chutich worked as Assistant Dean at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She also served as assistant U.S. attorney for Minnesota. 
Moreover, according to Ted Sampsell-Jones, a Mitchell Hamline School of Law professor, Chutich is a relatively centrist judge, whose appointment to the Supreme Court will not significantly change its political ideology. 
When the time comes for him to name the next new member of the Supreme Court, we hope Dayton chooses someone just as well-qualified as Chutich.