Former Democratic-NPL Party leader Mark Schneider dies on Election Day
Mark Schneider, who was co-founder of the Schneider Law Firm in Fargo and once served as chairman of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, became a right-to-die advocate as a terminal cancer patient.
FARGO — Mark Schneider was an ardent labor lawyer, former leader of the Democratic-NPL Party, and in his last days an impassioned advocate for the right of the dying to choose assisted suicide.
Schneider, who was born in 1948, died on Tuesday, Nov. 8 — Election Day. He had once served as chairman of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, which announced his death on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
As a lawyer, Schneider devoted most of his career as a labor lawyer, and was one of the few lawyers in North Dakota who represented injured lawyers fighting for workers’ compensation benefits.
His activism at the end of his life included advocacy for a bill in 2021 that would have allowed the option of assisted suicide in North Dakota.
"No one can speak to dying with dignity more credibly than someone who is dying," Mark Schneider told North Dakota lawmakers.
He added, " I fill that bill. I am dying ."
He was battling urothelial cancer, an experience that made him an advocate for the right to die. His wife, Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo, supported her husband’s decision.
"I think most people feel that capable decision-makers ought to be able to choose their health care for the end of their lives," Mary said after Mark testified on behalf of the bill. "As much as it breaks my heart, he has a right to choose when enough is enough."
Schneider lived most of his life in Fargo and founded the Schneider Law Firm with his late brother, John Schneider, a former state legislator and U.S. attorney, and retired in 2015. The firm now is in the hands of Mark and Mary Schneider’s son, Mac Schneider, whom President Joe Biden has nominated for U.S. attorney in North Dakota.
Earlier in his legal career, Mark Schneider spent several years as a regional attorney for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for eight southern states. He was chairman of the North Dakota Governor’s Council on Human Resources, chairman of the statewide Protection and Advocacy Project, and vice president of the Governor’s Council on the Status of Women.
In retirement, Schneider published a novel about an Irish family , “She Has the Right of It,” that sketched characters and a genealogy resembling his own family story.
Central to the novel was the coming-of-age story of a Catholic, Irish American kid growing up in Fargo in the 1950s and 1960s, as Schneider did.
While attending the University of North Dakota School of Law, Schneider carpooled from Fargo to Grand Forks with the late Beryl Levine , the first woman to serve on the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Libby Schneider, Schneider’s daughter, remembered her father’s influence in a social media post.
“Mac and I are Democrats because we grew up watching my parents dedicate their lives to ensuring folks got a fair shake,” she wrote. “My dad lived his values and saw politics as the way to elicit change and ensure we have folks who give a damn about others running this country.”
Given her father’s political activism, she said it was “only fitting that he took his leave on Election Day.”