What we’ve got here is failure to kommunicate

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has issued her statement on President Trump’s nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit. There is a quality of unintentional self-parody to Senator Klobuchar’s statement. The statement reads like it might have been written by a staffer satirizing Senator Klobuchar’s public persona. This is the statement in its entirety:

Justice Stras has served on the Minnesota Supreme Court for seven years. While I don’t agree with all of his decisions, I felt it was important to actually look in depth at his record. 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.

I am also concerned that this position could simply go to a less independent judge from another 8th Circuit state (Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota or South Dakota) since this is not a permanent Minnesota position.

I also respect the fact that Senator Franken has an equal role to play here. Under Senate practice, both Senators from a judicial nominee’s home state must allow that nominee to have a hearing. Like Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, I support the practice as it is a check and balance regardless of whether a state is represented by two Democrats, two Republicans or one Democrat and one Republican. The policy has resulted in decision-making for judges across party lines. This policy has held true throughout the entire Obama administration, including when Republicans ran the Senate and when Democrats ran the Senate. Changing this policy would have serious ramifications for judicial nominations in every state in the country. Given this important policy, and given Senator Franken’s view that Justice Stras should not be allowed a hearing in the Senate, the White House will need to provide additional names for the 8th Circuit position.

I have enjoyed getting to know Justice Stras throughout this process and I know he will continue to serve admirably on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

In her statement Senator Klobuchar asserts, contrary to Senator Franken, that she thinks Justice Stras deserves a hearing. However, she calls on Chairman Grassley to honor Franken’s effort to block the nomination from consideration by the Senate.

Her statement fairly raises the question whether Senator Klobuchar has turned in her blue slip on the nomination, or will do so. The implication is that she would if she hasn’t already, but she doesn’t say. Or does she believe the question to be moot? I don’t think it is. We have not yet heard from Chairman Grassley.

Yesterday I called and then emailed Klobuchar communications director Caitlin Girourard. When I called I was told Ms. Girouard had stepped out, but was given her email address. Here is the email I sent:

Dear Ms. Girouard: I have been covering the Stras nomination for the website Power Line (powerlineblog.com). I read Senator Klobuchar’s post-Labor Day statement on Justice Stras’s nomination. Would you please advise if Senator Klobuchbar has actually returned her blue slip on Justice Stras, or if/when she intends to do so if she hasn’t?

I would appreciate a response to this message today even if it is just to let me know that Senator Klobuchar declines to respond.

Thank you in advance for your courtesies.

Scott Johnson

I have received no response to my inquiry. Minnesotans deserve an answer to this straightforward question.


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