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September 3, 2014

Plan to honor Justice Blackmun at Capitol revived; abortion foes balk

Minnesota lawmakers have revived a push to place a bust of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun at the Capitol.

Justice Blackmun was a St. Paul native who served on the high court for 24 years. DFL Sen. Scott Dibble calls him a son of Minnesota whose absence from the halls of the Capitol is a glaring gap. But the state’s leading anti-abortion group opposes any memorial to the justice who wrote the court’s opinion in the Roe v. Wade case, which affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion.

The new legislation would allow the Minnesota Historical Society to commission a bust of Blackmun, to be placed near one of his former colleague, Chief Justice Warren Burger. A similar effort in 2000 was rejected.

Who is memorialized at the Capitol? Here’s the list. The 17 busts include nine that went in when the Capitol was built more than a century ago.

Sen. Dibble says it’s a coincidence that his bill is introduced in the same week that the landmark Roe v Wade case turned 40. But Tuesday’s anniversary put the ruling and its author in a spotlight.

Here’s more on Blackmun from the website of Arlington National Cemetery, where he is buried.

The year after he retired from the bench, Blackmun sat for hours of interviews about his career and his most famous opinion. C-SPAN provides excerpts.