Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
Former Speaker, Minnesota House of Representatives
Paul Thissen, JD, is an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and former Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives. He also served twice as Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Minority Leader and is the first person to have served both as Minnesota House Speaker and on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Before being appointed to the court, Thissen focused on a range of issues legislative career He was a key player in passing significant legislation, including major changes to Minnesota’s eminent domain laws to protect the rights of individual property owners, the merger of the insolvent Minneapolis Teachers Retirement Fund into the statewide teachers pension fund, a nation-leading law to curb abusive tax-preparer practices, and an overhaul of state campaign law.
During Thissen’s Speakership, the Minnesota Legislature passed the first significant investment in early childhood education in state history, including all-day, every-day kindergarten for every five-year-old in the state. In addition, the legislature enacted a two-year tuition freeze for public college and university students, legalized same-sex marriage, passed the Minnesota Dream Act providing in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants, and expanded health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans through the creation a Minnesota-based health insurance exchange called MNSure.
Thissen is also an accomplished lawyer, having specialized in health care law at the Minneapolis office of Ballard Spahr. Prior to that, he focused on general litigation and appellate work at Briggs & Morgan and clerked for Judge James B. Loken at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Thissen serves on several nonprofit boards and is married to Karen Wilson Thissen, with whom he has three children.