Skip to main content
Minnesota State Law Library Logo

Minnesota State Law Library

Thomas F. Gallagher, Associate Justice 1942-1967

Thomas F. Gallagher

Portrait of Thomas F. Gallagher


In 1942, Thomas F. Gallagher was elected Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He served on the Court for 24 years.



Thomas F. Gallagher was born on November 24, 1897, in Faribault. He graduated from Faribault High School in 1915.  Gallagher attended the University of Minnesota and left in 1918 to serve in the Army in World War I . After the Armistice, he returned to the University of Minnesota and graduated with a law degree in 1921. From 1921 to 1942, Thomas Gallagher had a private practice in Minneapolis. On August 19, 1931, he married Elizabeth Jane Gillum. They had three sons and one daughter. 

Thomas Gallagher is the founder of the two party political system in Minnesota.  He led a drive to merge the Democratic and Farm Labor Parties to establish the DFL--Democratic Farm Labor party.  Gallagher was nominated as the Democratic Party's candidate for governor in 1938.  In 1940, Gallagher served as Minnesota delegate at large at the Democratic national convention in Chicago.  

In 1942,  Thomas Gallagher was elected Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.  He was reelected in 1948, 1954, and 1960. During his service on the Court, Gallagher participated in approximately 5000 decisions and wrote  600 opinions.

During the Court's summer recesses, Gallagher was a referee for railway arbitration under the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board.  In the 1960s, Thomas Gallagher served as president of the Minnesota Safety Council. He conducted panels of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials in all of Minnesota's judicial districts to develop uniform judicial procedures and equitable penalties in traffic offenses. 

Thomas F. Gallagher died on March 3, 1985, in Minneapolis.