Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are blocking the Senate from taking up President Trump’s nomination of David Stras to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Stras is a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court; he is widely respected. His nomination is opposed by approximately no one, not even by Klobuchar or Franken. Yet they have withheld their blue slips to prevent the Senate Judiciary Committee from acting on the nomination.
Senator Klobuchar is using the Stras nomination for narrow partisan purposes. She seeks to have a hand in the appointment of Democrats to four federal vacancies in Minnesota: United States Marshal, United States Attorney and two federal district court judgeships. Klobuchar and Franken actually convened a panel of attorneys to recommend a nominee for United States Attorney. I believe that Klobuchar supports the appointment of Democrat Joe Dixon for United States Attorney. Neither Klobuchar nor Dixon has responded to my request for comment since I first reported this three weeks ago.
Klobuchar is negotiating with the White House over Minnesota’s federal vacancies. Her role in this scenario shows her to be a partisan player. She doesn’t talk about it and her friends at the Star Tribune have left the story alone since July 8.
Appearing at the Minnesota State Fair yesterday and sitting for an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Klobuchar was asked about the Stras nomination. The interview generated an AP story by Kyle Potter (posted at the link along with the audio of Klobuchar’s MPR interview) that also made it into the Star Tribune.
Klobuchar denied that she’s blocking Stras’s nomination. That’s what she said, anyway. This is a lie. Klobuchar is blocking the nomination pending a deal with the White House that has nothing to do with the merits of the nomination of Justice Stras. Klobuchar referred to the pending federal vacancies and to discussions with the Department of Justice as well as the White House counsel’s office without acknowledging that she is holding her blue slip on Justice Stras in connection with these discussions.
Franken asserts that he’s still reviewing Justice Stras’s “lengthy record.” Justice Stras is a young man. His record can be mastered without an exorbitant expenditure of time. If only Franken hadn’t spent so much time promoting his new book — he even took a turn hosting SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead channel for a day — he’d be done by now. But this is not to be taken seriously. It’s a joke, so to speak, of the unfunny political variety that Senator Franken now retails.
The editors of the the Star Tribune editorial page do not encourage op-ed columns that break local news the Star Tribune itself hasn’t gotten around to reporting. Today, however, they let Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen report that Klobuchar and Franken have in fact blocked the Senate from taking up Stras’s nomination. Rep. Paulsen tells the story in “Klobuchar, Franken impede the path of an outstanding judge.” It’s a good and even important column on the merits of the Stras nomination. Please read it all.
Rep. Paulsen omits elaboration of Klobuchar’s game here (he leaves it at “partisan game-playing in Washington”). Senator Klobuchar is sensitive about it. No one involved wants to ruffle her feathers. I sympathize, but let’s get the full story out.