Editor’s note: Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson and former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz jointly submitted these comments on the nomination of David Stras.
Paul H. Anderson:
Together with my former Minnesota Supreme Court colleagues Alan Page and Helen M. Meyer, we wrote a letter on May 21 of this year to our two Minnesota senators, plus both the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and the Judiciary Committee, supporting our former colleague, Justice David Stras, for confirmation as a judge on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Recently, several letters and articles have questioned the Stras appointment. While I cannot speak for either Page or Meyer, I want to answer the question as to whether I have had any second thoughts about my endorsement of Stras.
Absolutely not. Stras is a good person and a thoughtful and objective jurist who should be confirmed.
While Stras is more conservative than I would like, that is not the point. The question is whether Stras is qualified to serve on the Eighth Circuit. And he is.
I must add that last year I sharply admonished Republican leaders and the Republican caucus of the U.S. Senate about how wrong they were for their failure to do their sworn duty and give a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing. But two wrongs do not make a right.
David Stras is qualified for the Eighth Circuit court and should be confirmed.
Yes, Justice Stras is a conservative. But the support and respect he has earned from those with whom he has worked is truly impressive and comes from both sides of the aisle.
I am aware of six letters of support that have been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee members:
1. One comes from 109 top Minnesota lawyers, who note that they hail “from all political walks of life” and that Stras is “a judge who decides cases without regard to political affiliation or party lines.” Signers include two former chief justices and three former associate justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
2. Another comes from 38 University of Minnesota law professors, including nearly all who worked with then-Prof. Stras before he joined the state Supreme Court seven years ago. They note: “We may differ from David in our views ... some of us quite strongly, but we agree that he listens to all points of view and analyzes arguments with fairness, diligence and intelligence.”
3. Another letter is signed by 29 former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks who worked with Stras when he was a clerk there. “We are Democrats, independents and Republicans, and while we have different views on every political issue, including policies of this presidential administration, we are united in support for David’s confirmation ...”
4. An early letter came in May from three former Minnesota Supreme Court Justices — Alan Page, Helen M. Meyer and Paul H. Anderson. It states that “we have gained firsthand insights into his [Stras’] abilities and qualifications” and observes that Stras “evaluates legal issues with objectivity and an open mind, traits that are not universal.”
5. Another letter from 12 former members of Congress — eight Republicans and four Democrats — notes that “during his 7 years on the Minnesota Supreme Court, Justice Stras had demonstrated a rigorous intellectual analysis and a commitment to the rule of law.”
6. A letter from 35 lawyers, members of the Faegre Baker Daniels firm where Stras served as counsel, says they “span the political spectrum ... but we are united in our support of Justice Stras ... [whom we found] smart, rigorous, cordial, impartial, and committed to the law without politics or partisanship.”
I agree with Justice Anderson that there have been too many politically motivated confirmation delays. They have been caused by both sides in the Senate — far more than during my Senate days. Collegiality must return to the Senate if it is to be again a great deliberative body.
Rudy Boschwitz represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 1991. Paul H. Anderson was a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1994 to 2013.