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Kathleen A. Blatz, Associate Justice, 1996-1998; Chief Justice 1998-2006

Kathleen A. Blatz, 1996-1998; C.J. 1998-2006

Portrait of woman in judges robe


Kathleen Blatz was the first female Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court    



Kathleen Blatz was born July 22, 1954 in Minneapolis to parents Joe and Kay Blatz. She attended the Academy of Holy Angels High School in Richfield, Minnesota. She then attended the University of Notre Dame, where she studied sociology and graduated summa cum laude in 1976. She earned her masters of social work from the University of Minnesota in 1978 and worked as a psychiatric social worker. She returned to the University of Minnesota for law school, and earned her J.D. cum laude in 1984. 

In 1978, Blatz was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives. She was 24 years old when she was sworn in for her first session, making her the youngest female legislator at that time. She represented Bloomington, Minnesota for eight terms.

Blatz attended law school while she was serving in the House of Representatives. After graduating from law school, she went to work as an associate attorney at Popham, Haik, Schnobrich & Kaufman, Ltd. She later served as assistant Hennepin County attorney from 1992 to 1993.  

On December 3, 1993, Blatz was appointed to the Hennepin County District Court. She served as a district court judge from 1994 to 1996. On November 1, 1996, Blatz was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court as an Associate Justice by Governor Arne Carlson. She was appointed Chief Justice by Governor Carlson on January 29, 1998. Her elevation to Chief Justice made her the first female Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. 

Blatz retired from the Supreme Court on January 10, 2006. Her tenure as Chief Justice was 7 years, 11 months, and 19 days. 

Since leaving the Court, Blatz has accepted a number of high-profile assignments. In 2011, Governor Mark Dayton appointed Blatz to be the "special master" during the state government shutdown. Her role was to hear arguments related to funding essential services during the shutdown and to interpret court orders related to shutdown funding. Governor Dayton appointed Blatz to a child abuse task force in 2014, following criticism of the state's child protection system. In 2017, Governor Dayton appointed Blatz as the interim chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority following a scandal involving the board's use of suites at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Blatz has served on a number of private, public, and nonprofit boards of directors, including the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Justice, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, and Columbia Funds. She also continues to work as a mediator and arbitrator in private practice.