This week President Trump unveiled a slate of nominees for federal court positions. One nominee to watch is Judge David Stras, whom Trump nominated to fill a vacancy on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals–the federal appeals court over Arkansas.
Judge Stras was originally on President Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees. He is currently a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law, and he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is one of the more conservative justices on the court.
Judge Stras is generally considered a conservative who believes in limiting the power of the courts. In 2014 he wrote in a dissenting opinion regarding the Minnesota Supreme Court’s interpretation of state law,
It is well established that the judiciary does not write statutes; nor do we amend them, no matter the circumstances . . . Amending statutes is, and always has been, the Legislature’s job, particularly.
So what does this mean for Arkansas? Well, since Arkansas is in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, it means Judge Stras could hear federal challenges brought against state laws–such as Arkansas’ new pro-life laws.
Given that Judge Stras seems reluctant to strike or rewrite state laws, his nomination to the Eighth Circuit could bode well for any lawsuits filed over, for example, Arkansas’ new ban on dismemberment abortion or the new law preventing abortion doctors from selling organs harvested from aborted babies.
Of course, with any judicial nominee it’s impossible to know for sure what the future holds, but Judge Stras’ nomination to the Eighth Circuit looks promising.