We may be in the midst of a Democratic Presidency, but there's big news in the Republican Supreme Court Nominee Dugout. David Stras has just been named an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Dave is a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Law and actually has a basket of titles: Vance K. Opperman Research Scholar, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Co-Director, Institute for Law and Politics. He's also a blogger at Scotus and ELS Blog.
Perhaps more importantly, Dave is a former Clarence Thomas clerk. However much I might disagree with Justice Thomas - and he and I would probably disagree constantly - he has two highly impressive attributes that justify acknowledgement and respect. First, by all accounts, he is an unfailingly nice guy. Former clerks from a variety of chambers report that he is among the most - if not the single most - collegial judge on the Court. Second, he is unusually broadminded about the JD institution of his clerks. Dave is a great example of this. He graduated with a BA, MBA, and JD from the University of Kansas.
Dave and I worked together for a year when I was on the Alabama faculty and he was a Hugo Black Fellow. He was intellectually alive and always a pleasure on a personal level. He is reasonable, willing and able to see both sides of an issue, and completely supportive of people with divergent views. He is ambitious. He works hard and builds (and sustains) personal and professional relationships.
He is also a 35 year old conservative from outside the Beltway, appointed by an important Republican. Which means that n 2014 he'll be a 39 year old and in 2018 he'll be 43.
I can see President Pawlenty's press conference now:
"I wanted a Justice who represents the rest of America, outside the Northeast Corridor and Ivy League. I wanted a Justice who understands the importance of states in our federal system, and has deep experience in a state court system. I wanted a practical person who understands business and isn't an ideologue. And I wanted a person with impeccable credentials that compare with any other member of the current Court. That is why I am nominating David Stras to the Supreme Court."