Abortion foes don't want Dems spending money on bust of Harry Blackmun, Roe v. Wade author

In the eyes of Minnesotan Citizens Concerned for Life, this is the face of an "extremist."
In the eyes of Minnesotan Citizens Concerned for Life, this is the face of an "extremist."

Yesterday, a bill was introduced to use an as-of-yet-undetermined amount of taxpayer funds on a Capitol bust of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

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Blackmun was boyhood buddies with fellow St. Paul native and future Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger. Burger's bust already sits outside the old Supreme Court chambers on the second floor of the Capitol in St. Paul, but an effort to install Blackmun's likeness across the hall failed in 2000. Why has Blackmun proven to be politically controversial?

In a word, abortion. Blackmun, who served on the Supreme Court from 1970 to 1994 and died in 1999, was the author of the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, which ruled that the right to an abortion is protected by the 14th Amendment.

Sen. Scott Dibble, D-Minneapolis and one of the authors of the bill that would fund a Blackmun bust, says the effort to commemorate the former Supreme Court Justice goes beyond that controversial ruling.

"He should be honored just like we honor a number of other major figures from Minnesota, who've made such major contributions to our nation's life," Dibble said, according to an MPR report.

But Scott Fischbach, executive director of the anti-abortion group Minnesotan Citizens Concerned for Life, doesn't think Blackmun's legacy can be separated from abortion and is urging lawmakers to reject Dibble's bill.

"Placing a statue of the individual who wrote the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized the killing of more than half a million unborn children in Minnesota is extremist and divisive," Fischbach said in a statement. "The newly elected leadership in the Legislature has stated that they want to focus on jobs and education for the people of our state - not placing statues of extremists that divide Minnesotans in Capitol alcoves."

Meanwhile, Star Tribune political reporter Jennifer Brooks shows us where Burger's bust is and where Blackmun's would go if funding for it is approved:

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