by Sharon Carson
Amidon, North Dakota, the county seat for Slope County, is a town long known to drivers along Highway 85 for the life-sized but fake police officer who sat motionless in an old patrol car parked along the highway at the edge of town. This officer was an exceedingly compliant public employee who served for years as a low-cost speed bump.
In contrast to such a static symbol of the law, Amidon is named after Charles Fremont Amidon, a decidedly non-compliant federal judge who was born in 1856 to abolitionist parents and came to the Dakota Territory in 1882 to become the new and only high school teacher in Fargo. Amidon soon left teaching to study law in Fargo, and was appointed Federal Judge for the District of North Dakota in 1897, serving in that capacity until 1928. He died in 1937, with an obituary in the New York Times reminding readers that Amidon “was an ardent advocate of judicial reform, a supporter of the Constitution as a living document and a defender of the civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”