MN Senators Make Final Decision on Stras Nomination

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Image Credit: The United States Senate

WASHINGTON D.C. — Minnesota’s U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have finally made a decision on the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the eighth circuit bench.

Citing President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to appoint judges and justices who hold similar ideologies to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as a factor in his decision, Franken gave a resounding no to Stras’s nomination.

“As a state court judge, Justice Stras has not often had occasion to consider cases raising these issues, but I am concerned that a nominee nurtured by such an ideology would likely seek to impose it on the litigants before him,” Franken stated as he described Stras’ time clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas and the conservative influence of the late Justice Scalia.

“Early in his career, Justice Stras worked as a law clerk for Justice Thomas, one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative members,” Franken said in the statement. “Justice Stras has described Justice Thomas as a mentor, and at an event hosted by the conservative Federalist Society, Justice Stras talked about how the jurisprudence of Justice Scalia helped to shape his own views. He said, ‘I really grew up with a steady diet of Justice Scalia, and I’m better for it.’ Justice Scalia embraced a rigid view of the Constitution that favored powerful corporate interests, was blind to the equal dignity of LGBT people, and often refused to acknowledge the lingering animus in laws that perpetuate the racial divide. As a state court judge, Justice Stras has not often had occasion to consider cases raising these issues, but I am concerned that a nominee nurtured by such an ideology would likely seek to impose it on the litigants before him.”

Franken has been a proud critic of Scalia, offering condemnation of his interpretation of the Constitution when Justice Gorsuch was nominated to replace of the late justice. However, not all agree with Franken’s assessments.

“He’ll go down in history as one of the most important Supreme Court justices ever, and also one of the greatest,” Justice Elena Kagan said of Scalia in 2016 according to the Washington Post.  

Franken also faulted the White House for consulting him after they had chosen Stras.

“Rather than work together to select a nominee who is a judicial moderate, the White House had already settled on Justice Stras before first approaching me, and the president nominated him despite the concerns that I expressed” Franken said.

However, as reported by Alpha News, the White House attempted to reach out on multiple occasions with Franken and Klobuchar to choose a candidate.

Meanwhile, Klobuchar offered her hesitant approval of Stras’s nomination.

“While I don’t agree with all of his decisions, I felt it was important to actually look in depth at his record,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “I learned that for the vast majority of the cases he has respected precedent and sided with the majority, which has included both Democratic- and Republican-appointed judges. He is also supported by former Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. While Justice Stras was not my choice for the 8th Circuit Court, it is my view that he deserves a hearing before the Senate.”  

However, Klobuchar’s approval is essentially meaningless.

As Klobchar points out in her statement, Franken’s disapproval of Stras serves as a “check and balance” on the process and as a result, the White House will have to provide other names for the open seat.

Both Klobuchar and Franken received criticism for their refusal to withhold the “blue slip” from the nomination process by members of the media. As Alpha News reported, MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt railed against Franken for his decision to withhold the slip.

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