Harry Blackmun

Harry Blackmun (1908-1999) and his family lived at 847 East Fourth Street after they moved to St. Paul from southern Illinois in 1910. His father was a businessman who owned nearby groceries at 198 Bates and 376 Maria. Harry attended Van Buren Elementary School and graduated from Mechanic Arts High School. After winning a scholarship and attending Harvard University, he graduated from the Harvard Law School. Between 1950 and 1959, Blackmun served as resident counsel for the Mayo Clinic and described the job as "his happiest time" as opposed to later judicial work where he "performed his duty.”

Blackmun was appointed to the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1959 and stayed there until he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1970. He had been a good friend with Warren Burger since grade school and was even best man at his wedding. Initially the two usually voted together and were sometimes called “The Minnesota Twins.”

But Blackmun slowly began siding with the liberal faction of the court and toward the end of their careers their friendship had cooled. He is probably most remembered for his written opinion on Roe v. Wade in 1973, but was also very concerned with First Amendment rights of free press, Sixth Amendment rights of fair trial and the need to end capital punishment. Blackmun retired from the Supreme court in 1994.