Watchdog Email Update September 8, 2017

Quote of the Week: “Justice Stras’s professional background and record strongly suggest that, if confirmed, he would embrace the legacy of his role models and reliably rule in favor of powerful corporate interests over working people, and that he would place a high bar before plaintiffs seeking justice at work, at school, and at the ballot box. The president should be seeking out judges who bridge the issues that divide us, but I fear that Justice Stras’s views and philosophy would lead him to reinforce those divisions and steer the already conservative Eighth Circuit even further to the right.”
– Al Franken (D – MN)

Quote of the Week: “David Stras has “all the attributes and qualifications necessary to make an excellent circuit court judge.”
– Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page

Our junior U.S. Senator continues to embarrass Minnesotans and make us all a laughingstock.
The comedian-cum-politician and erstwhile cokehead made national headlines this week when he announced that he would oppose the confirmation of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to seat on the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This process is known as “returning a blue slip” because Senate tradition calls for both senators from the judge’s home state to return a blue slip to the Senate clerk to signify that both support the nomination.

A failure to return the blue slip doesn’t necessarily signify the death of that person’s confirmation, but it presents a very difficult path.

Franken’s actions demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that he both doesn’t understand his role as a U.S. Senator and fails to understand his role in the “advice and consent” process.
Franken’s “advice and consent” role is limited to passing upon the fitness of the nominee to serve as a federal judge.

The power conferred doesn’t give Franken the right to substitute his judgement for the judgement of the President of the United States.

The president is empowered to select judicial nominees who conform to the chief executive’s views with respect to judicial philosophy and the role of the judiciary in our system of government.

That Trump would nominate someone with views inconsistent with Franken’s is no surprise.
That Franken would insist upon a nominee who shares his world view is ridiculous and outlandish.

Is Stras qualified to serve?

The American Bar Association (ABA) gave Stras a unanimous ranking of “well-qualified,” the highest possible rating.

Eight former Minnesota Supreme Court justices, including Page, have signed letters in support of Stras’s nomination.

In fact, Stras earned public support from every corner of his professional life, including 108 lawyers who appeared before him, former law clerks, 34 former private practice colleagues, numerous former law professor colleagues, and former and current members of Congress.
Read these quotes and ask yourself if Stras is judge Franken portrays him to be:

Former Members of Congress from Minnesota: “Justice Stras’s approach to each case is rooted in respect for existing precedent, and he applies that precedent thoughtfully and analytically. As a result, any litigant whose case comes before Justice Stras can be assured he will decide their case objectively and fairly.”

108 Minnesota lawyers, including 6 former Minnesota Supreme Court Justices: “In his seven years as a Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Justice Stras has distinguished himself not only as a top-notch jurist, but as a judge who decides cases without regard to political affiliation or party lines. He has sided with both “liberal” and “conservative” Justices during his tenure on the court, always in pursuit of applying the law as it comes to him, without ideology or favoritism.”

Former Clerks: “We can attest to his integrity, fairness, and intellectual rigor when dealing with the cases before him. He thoroughly examines all sides of every case. He strives to be fair to each litigant and to decide each case based on its legal merits, rather than the identities of the parties or the popularity of the outcome. Justice Stras’s decisions reflect a consistent approach to interpreting statutes and constitutions. In every case, large or small, he puts forth great effort to reach the result that best reflects the law and adheres to precedent.”

Former Supreme Court clerk colleagues: “Although David’s stellar qualifications speak for themselves, we can attest to his legal acumen, work ethic, and judgment. Perhaps more important, we can attest to David’s collegiality and temperament. Our Supreme Court term involved many difficult and contentious cases. Yet even when we disagreed, David treated us with the utmost respect and made lasting friendships across the aisle.”

Former colleagues from University of Minnesota Law School: “In his time at the University of Minnesota, David exhibited qualities that are important ones for any judge. He engaged in debate respectfully, listening to opposing ideas while backing up his own views with facts and arguments. He wanted our students to be exposed to a wide range of beliefs – for example, he was involved in bringing both Justice Clarence Thomas and consumer advocate Ralph Nader to the law school as distinguished speakers.”

There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Stras is eminently well-qualified to serve as a federal judge.

Moreover, there is nothing in the public domain showing he is unfit, much less unqualified.
While he is no doubt under the microscope of the liberal attack machine, there are no legal issues, tales of poor personal conduct, or parking tickets.

David Stras should be a federal judge, Al Franken’s ridiculous, hyper-partisan objections notwithstanding.

Let us also not fail to hold Sen. Klobuchar responsible as well.

As usual, she is more than content to hide out, letting others do the dirty work she fully supports.

Klobuchar has stated that Stras should have a confirmation hearing but has noted that the president should “Submit other names.”

Sen. Klobuchar is a master of uttering bi-partisan words while practicing rank partisanship.
So what should be done?

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa should simply ignore the blue slip issue and move forward with a hearing.

There is bi-partisan precedent in treating the blue slip as “persuasive” but not “binding” on the Judiciary Committee in considering a nominee to the federal bench.

It would represent a massive failure of our political institutions to fail David Stras because of the insane partisanship of our comedian/clown senator.

The alternative here is that President Trump will simply nominate another person from a different state in the 8th Circuit who won’t face “blue slip” objections.

That person won’t be from Minnesota and likely won’t be as qualified as Stras.

For the un-initiated, these are the other states in the circuit and their senators:
Arkansas: Cotton (R), Boozman (R)
Iowa: Grassley (R), Ernst (R)
Missouri: McCaskill (D), Blunt (R)
Nebraska: Sasse (R), Fischer (R)
North Dakota: Heitkamp (D), Hoeven (R)
South Dakota: Thune (R), Rounds (R)

What do suppose the odds are that the next nominee would come from AK, IA, NE, or SD?

Let’s hope common sense prevails and Franken’s childish actions are overruled.

Shame on President Trump and the deal he cut with feckless Democrats to raise the debt ceiling with no spending reforms.

Even worse, the deal was tied to hurricane relief funding, which provided a ready-made excuse to members of Congress who could bad mouth the deal while still voting for it.
Kudos to the 90 members of the House of Representatives who had the courage to vote against this stunt.

Spending reform? Entitlement reform? Repeal and replace? Tax reform?
Still waiting…