The people’s court

IâÄôve been hearing rumors lately that people around here arenâÄôt very excited about the upcoming Minnesota Supreme Court elections set to take place on Nov. 4. It seems that there are other political races on the ballot that continuously hog the spotlight. In order to determine whether this was true, I turned to that wellspring of human knowledge, the faithful weathervane for all things hip and current. Yep, I checked it out on Facebook. I looked up the support group IâÄôd heard existed for supporters of incumbent Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, and behold! 58 members. Let me put this in perspective. A group with 60 members which is similarly titled, but arguably less consequential, can be found in the same search: âÄúChris Gildea is the Result of Many Generations of Advanced Spartan Breeding.âÄù Rep. Keith Ellison, whose potential voting base is approximately one-eighth the size of GildeaâÄôs has 3,321 members. So people arenâÄôt that excited about the Minnesota Supreme Court, but thereâÄôs still time to change that before the upcoming election. So letâÄôs talk a little about these Supreme Court candidates. Now I know this stuff isnâÄôt that exciting. Heck, IâÄôm in law school and I donâÄôt know that much about these candidates. So stick around and learn with me. This is important stuff. Oh, and just so youâÄôre aware, IâÄôm going to avoid providing too much of my own personal opinions on these candidates. Each of them has managed to graduate from law school and earn a living wage in the field of law. The chances of me one day doing the same are not looking good. So I will keep any skepticism to myself. The races this year feature Paul H. Anderson and Tim Tingelstad squaring off for Seat three on the court, while Gildea faces Deborah Hedlund for Seat four. Anderson, 65, has been on the high court since his appointment by then-governor Arne Carlson in 1994. He is the second-longest serving justice behind Alan Page. Anderson is a graduate of Macalester College and the University of Minnesota Law School. Minnesota elects its Supreme Court judges to six-year terms, meaning that if Anderson wins, this will be his last election, since Minnesota law mandates that judges retire at age 70. According to the website (yes, itâÄôs a real website) Anderson has served on school boards, the Inver Grove Heights Chamber of Commerce, and as a Deacon and Ruling elder at the House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul. Anderson came out on top in his primary election on Sept. 9, winning almost 64 percent of the total votes. AndersonâÄôs opponent, Tingelstad, 48, of Bemidji, has worked in both private and public service in the 9th judicial district since 1987. He has most recently worked as a magistrate for the district, having held the post since 1999, according to his website. Tinglestad graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead and the University of North Dakota law school. He claims the preservation of the current system of judicial elections as one of his most important priorities. Tinglestad also says he is committed to an interpretation of the Constitution consistent with the vision of the nationâÄôs founding fathers. He is unabashedly religious, and says on his website that âÄútodayâÄôs concept of âÄòseparation of church and stateâÄô does not come from the Constitution,âÄù and that the U.S. Constitution was founded upon Biblical principles. TinglestadâÄôs site also contains many Bible verses and states that âÄúAs GodâÄôs Word has been removed from our public lives, the resulting darkness has led to our present social disorder and political divisions. The correction of these problems will only begin when the Light of Truth is returned to our landâÄôs highest hills, the Supreme Courts.âÄù Tinglestad, incidentally, also owns the patent on a special golf putter called âÄúThe Way.âÄù In Seat four, incumbent Justice Gildea is facing a challenge from Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund. Gildea, 47, was appointed to the court by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2006. Before her appointment, Gildea worked as a district court judge, associate general counsel at the University of Minnesota and as an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C. Gildea graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris and Georgetown University Law Center. GildeaâÄôs husband, Andy Gildea, is a staffer for the GOP in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Gildea survived a lawsuit earlier this fall from primary challenger Jill Clark, who sought to remove GildeaâÄôs name from the ballot, but Gildea prevailed, and won more than 53 percent of the votes cast in the Sept. 9 primary election. Her challenger, Deborah Hedlund, needed a statewide hand recount of the ballots after the primary because the race between her and third place finisher Jill Clark was so close, within 1/2 percent. Hedlund, a graduate of the University of Kansas and the University of Minnesota Law School, touts her 28 years of experience as a trial court judge, something she says is lacking on the Supreme Court today. She also notes that she has tried âÄúmultipleâÄù first-degree murder trials at the district court level, something which no other member of the Supreme Court has done. Hedlund has successfully run for re-election four times at the district court level. Hey, that wasnâÄôt so bad now, was it? Now you know something about these candidates. And there are still a few days to learn more about them and the other judicial candidates on the ballot. So get informed, and get involved. And for goodnessâÄô sake, join a Facebook group. We canâÄôt let Chris win. Jake Parsley welcomes comments at [email protected]