Paul gave a good account (here and here) of the November 29 Senate Judiciary Committee on the nominations of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit and Kyle Duncan to the Fifth Circuit. I want only to add a few personal notes along with the video of the hearing below.
I am a fan and admirer of Justice Stras. He will make a great contribution to the Eighth Circuit, but his nomination has given rise to human and political drama. Senator Franken withheld his blue slip on the Stras nomination for reasons have nothing to do with Stras’s varied legal career or his distinguished professional record. It was just Al being Al. As his nomination moved into limbo, the process became an ordeal for him.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was in the process of working out a beautiful deal (to borrow from the Trump lexicon) with the White House Office of Legal Counsel on the Stras nomination. Franken’s blue-slip drama threw a monkey wrench into the deal that was in the works, though something must be done some time soon on the four federal vacancies in Minnesota. There can’t be any love lost between Klobuchar and Franken at the moment.
As we have noted in detail on Power Line, Chairman Grassley finally declared that he would not accord Franken a veto over the Stras nomination. In the issue of the Weekly Standard published today, Fred Barnes recounts the deliberation and diligence with which Grassley has dealt with his Democratic colleagues to advance President Trump’s appellate court nominations. (He also reports on Grassley’s steadfastness in the face of Harry Reid’s abuse and its local variants as Grassley sat on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.) The article is not yet accessible online, but it is terrific. Thank you, Senator Grassley.
Justice Stras’s nomination was widely supported by just about everyone who knows him in Minnesota. Justice Stras’s wife, Heather, and his two sons, Brandon and Benjamin, attended the hearing, but also present were former Minnesota Senator Rudy Boschwitz, Jewish Community Relations Council executive director Steve Hunegs, immediate past president of the Minnesota State Bar Association Robin Wolpert, and prominent Minneapolis attorneys Chuck Webber, David Asp, and Charlie Nauen. (Charlie is one of the most prominent Democratic attorneys in the Minnesota bar.) They all flew out on their own nickel to express their support for Justice Stras. It was indeed an impressive display.
Senator Klobuchar introduced Justice Stras to the committee and acknowledged the crew in attendance from Minnesota. She may have wanted to get out in front of the parade, but she turned her support for the hearing on Stras into a gesture of respect from the other side (which is not quite how she put it). Senator Klobuchar has not yet announced whether she will vote to confirm Justice Stras. At the hearing, however, she left Franken stranded at what must be a lonely, lonely time for him.
C-SPAN’s video of the hearing and notes on the November 29 proceedings are posted here.