Thursday, December 7, 2017
Posted by
Paxton Alto

Boundary Waters Legends: The Verdict on Judge Miles Lord

Having grown up on the Iron Range, Judge Miles Lord was always well-aware of the issues facing Northeastern Minnesota. He grew up as the eighth of nine children in an incredibly poor family. Later in his life, he became known as a Judge who most often ruled in favor of the underdog. Reflecting on his upbringing it is easy to see why he may have felt it was his duty to ensure justice for those with less power. It was this sense of responsibility that kept him passionate about doing what's right, even if it made him unpopular. Judge Miles Lord understood the importance of speaking for those without a voice, and it was this action that made him known to all and a hero to many.

Two of Judge Miles Lord’s most notable rulings were in regard to clean water in Northeastern Minnesota. The first case occurred in 1974 when he ruled against the Reserve Mining Company due to its dumping large amounts of taconite tailings into Lake Superior, which polluted this great lake and was associated with several health risks. This ruling would prove controversial as Judge Miles Lord was removed from the case by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals as a result. However, he stood by his ruling despite the backlash believing that his ruling was critical to keeping Lake Superior clean.

Judge Miles Lord proved himself as an environmental advocate yet again in 1980 when he ruled for motorized boats to remain forbidden in the Boundary Waters. Again, he acted in the best interest of the environment to ensure that the Boundary Waters would remain a peaceful place and that its waters would continue to be fresh and pristine. It is because of people like Judge Miles Lord that today we are able to dip our water bottles into any Boundary Waters lake and drink it with little concern. In fact, the BWCA is one of the few places left in the world that can boast of its pure water, an extraordinary feat in a world where contamination is no longer shocking but commonplace.

While Judge Miles Lord had many rulings worthy of headlines, it is these two environmental rulings that most inspire us. Judge Miles Lord once wrote, “I am not anti-corporation, but I am anti-hoodlum, anti-thug, anti-bank robber and anti-wrongdoers. Some of these wolves wear corporate clothing.” This statement resonates with us as we fight to protect the Boundary Waters from the foreign-mining conglomerate, Antofagasta. Judge Miles Lord made waves because he ruled in favor of what was right, not what was popular or who had more money. It is this example of ironclad resolve that encourages all of us to continue fighting for what is right and makes Judge Miles Lord a Boundary Waters Legend.