Our view: A fitting tribute: Historic Duluth courthouse is forever tied to legendary Judge Gerald W. Heaney
Last week's landmark music-sharing trial played out in an historic Duluth building now named for a legendary Duluth lawman. At ceremonies yesterday, downtown's federal courthouse was renamed the Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and United States...
Last week's landmark music-sharing trial played out in an historic Duluth building now named for a legendary Duluth lawman.
At ceremonies yesterday, downtown's federal courthouse was renamed the Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and United States Courthouse in honor of a judge who presided there before his retirement a little more than a year ago.
Did Gerald Heaney deserve the honor? Very much so.
Heaney was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1966. In 40 years, he wrote more than 3,000 legal opinions, some of them championing justice for vulnerable citizens, others affirming equal rights for women. He wrote or helped write opinions that led to the desegregation of schools in Little Rock, Ark., Omaha, Neb., and St. Louis. Also in St. Louis, he helped design a busing program that encouraged tens of thousands of inner-city children to attend schools in suburbs while channeling money into inner-city schools to improve education for all.
Closer to home, Heaney played key roles in establishing the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute and the Medical School at UMD. And he was a behind-the-scenes strategist and organizer for the DFL party during an era when Minnesota produced national political figures such as Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale and Orville Freeman.
The history of the building now bearing his name is nearly as impressive. It was constructed in 1930 under the watchful eye of famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, the father of the "City Beautiful" movement in the U.S. As a part of Duluth's Civic Center, the federal building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
And the building will now forever be tied to the legendary Heaney. In a state where the naming of streets and buildings for notable figures is an uncommon tribute, the honor couldn't be more fitting or more appropriate.