Harry Hunter MacLaughlin was appointed Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme in 1972 and served until 1977, when he was appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter.
Born August 9, 1937 in Breckenridge, Minnesota, Harry Hunter MacLaughlin was raised in the nearby community of Wahpeton, North Dakota, where he completed his primary and secondary education. Like many of his generation, service in World War II interrupted MacLaughlin’s pursuit of higher education, but did not prevent it. MacLaughlin served in the U.S. Navy from 1945-1946 as a yeoman and returned to the University of Minnesota to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1949.
After working a few years in business, MacLaughlin returned to the University of Minnesota to complete a law degree. It was in law school that MacLaughlin met the man that would be a life-time friend, fellow clerk, and law partner, Walter Mondale. Together they clerked for the Minnesota Supreme Court during the 1955-1956 term and then went on to work for Loevinger, Lindquist, Freeman & Fraser (today known as Linquist & Vennum). A year later, they formed their own firm, MacLaughlin & Mondale.
While practicing law, MacLaughlin also served as an instructor at William Mitchell College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline) and raised two sons with his wife, Mary Jean (Shaffer), whom he married in 1958.
In 1972, Governor Wendell R. Anderson appointed MacLaughlin to the Minnesota Supreme Court as Associate Justice. He held the position for five years, authoring 160 opinions, until President Carter appointed him to U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in 1977.
Judge MacLaughlin served on the court for 28 years, taking senior status in 1992, but continuing to serve until his death on May 3, 2005.
You may learn more about the life and work of former Supreme Court Justice Harry H. MacLaughlin in the resources, listed below, and in the book, Testimony: Remembering Minnesota's Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this brief biography.