On May 8th President Trump began nominating judges to fill more than 125 existing vacancies in the nation's federal courts. Among his first 10 nominees following the recent appointment of Justice Neal Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, is our own Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, whom the President nominated to a seat on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Assuming Judge Stras' appointment is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will continue to influence legal issues in Minnesota but on the federal level since the Eighth Circuit oversees the federal courts in Minnesota as well as Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and North and South Dakota. As would be expected, Judge Stras's nomination is supported by conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society (known for its "strict constructionist" position on how the laws and constitution should be interpreted by the courts). Judge Stras holds several degrees from the University of Kansas, including an MBA and JD. After teaching at the University of Minnesota Law School as an assistant professor, in 2010 then Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed him to a vacant seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court and he won re-election in 2012.
The impact of Judge David Stras on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in terms of labor and employment cases, remains to be seen. However, despite the fact that if his nomination goes through he will be interpreting federal rather than the state laws and constitution, his conservative leanings and narrow interpretations of the law should bode well for employers. In his roughly 7 years on the bench as a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, Judge Straus has been involved in a handful of important workplace-related decisions that provide some insight into how he will serve on the federal appellate bench.