ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, May 15, named as his first appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court a fellow southern Minnesota resident, Nobles County Judge Gordon Moore.

Moore, 57, presides over the Fifth Circuit Court in Worthington and has a long history working as a prosecutor in Worthington. He is set to replace Justice David Lillehaug, who will retire July 31 after serving on the court since 2013.

Lillehaug last year announced that he would retire after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Walz said he selected Moore after hearing from his peers and others about his sterling reputation in southern Minnesota and because he felt a Greater Minnesota perspective would be valuable to the Supreme Court. And he defended the move to replace a white male justice with another white male on the bench, saying Moore brought a different geographic perspective.

“I think the question on diversity on the courts is one that’s always there and plays into our decision, but not in its totality. This was the right pick," Walz said. "I feel confident that Judge Moore brings that unique perspective and, in this case, it is a perspective of living in Greater Minnesota for the last quarter-century.”

Appellate Court Judges Diane Bratvold and Jeffrey Bryan, along with Chief Deputy Attorney General John Keller, were also finalists for the position.

Moore previously served as the Nobles County attorney and as an associate attorney and assistant city attorney at the law firm Malters, Shepherd and Von Holtum. He also served as a special assistant and assistant attorney general under former Attorney General Skip Humphrey.

In his first appearance as a court appointee, Moore gave a nod to his fellow Greater Minnesota judges and said he would take the lessons he'd learned from working in Worthington to the state's highest court.

"I pledge to you, members of the judiciary and the state of Minnesota, to work hard with the goal of securing impartial justice for all Minnesotans," Moore said. "That has been my work in the judicial area and the legal area for the last 32 years."

Walz said each candidate was asked to submit a writing sample as part of their application and Moore wrote about the freedom of the press as part of his submission and the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court New York Times v. United States case. Moore on Friday spoke with reporters about his views on the press' right to access the courts.

"We cannot have a system where the press is demonized and turned into the so-called enemy of the people or some other type of organization that is thwarting basic justice," Moore told reporters.

Moore grew up in Rochester and attended college in Northfield before receiving his law degree from the University of Iowa. Moore has served on the Worthington First United Methodist Church’s Board of Trustees, the Worthington Hockey Association’s Board of Directors and the Worthington Futbol Club. He has chaired the boards of School District 518 and the Worthington Area YMCA and has coached youth hockey and soccer.