Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Who is Justice David Stras?

David Stras is President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit from Minnesota.

Age: 44 (approximate)

Current Position: Associate Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court (St. Paul, MN)


  • B.A., University of Kansas (1995), highest distinction

  • M.B.A., University of Kansas (1999)

  • J.D., University of Kansas School of Law (1999), Order of the Coif, Editor-In-Chief, Kansas Law Review Criminal Procedure Edition

Judicial Clerkships:

  • Judge Melvin Brunetti of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit (1999-2000)

  • Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit (2000-2001)

  • Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme (2002-2003)


  • 2001-2002:  Associate, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP (Washington, D.C.)

  • 2004-2010:  Associate Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School; Co-director, Institute for Law and Politics; Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)

  • 2010-present:  Associate Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court (initially appointed by Gov. Pawlenty, later elected to a six-year term in 2012) 

Notable Matters:  

  • As a law professor, Justice Stras taught and wrote in the areas of federal courts and jurisdiction, constitutional law, criminal law, and law and politics. 

  • Stras’ law review articles have appeared in many academic journals, including the Cornell Law Review, Texas Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Northwestern Law Review, Constitutional Commentary, and the Minnesota Law Review.

  • While he was a on the faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School, Justice Stras was also a Counsel in the Appellate Advocacy Group at Faegre & Bensen, LLP in Minneapolis.

Awards: Stanley V. Kinyon Tenure Track Teacher of the Year, University of Minnesota Law School (2006).

Biographical Notes:  Justice Stras is married and has two children.  Through his father, he is related to Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Germany.  Justice Stras is believed to be the first Jewish justice to sit on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Update: Letters of Endorsement for Justice Stras

Three Members of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Minnesota: “We were pleased to jointly recommend Justice Stras’ nomination to the White House last month. … Justice Stras has a reputation throughout Minnesota’s legal community as intellectually rigorous, fair-minded, and faithful to the law.”

34 Former colleagues from Faegre Baker Daniels: “While Justice Stras’s devotion to the law was on full display throughout his time with us, one thing that was not on display was politics or partisanship. We came to know Justice Stras not as a conservative or a Republican, but as an eminently talented lawyer who strove to discover what the law was, and how our clients could best function within the law. … [T]hose of us who have appeared before him since then in his role as Justice have found the same person whom we got to know during his time with our firm: smart, rigorous, cordial, impartial, and committed to the law without politics or partisanship. Win or lose, we have never doubted for a minute that he reached his decisions based on his well-considered view of the law, and not personal, political, or ideological considerations.”

Former Members of Congress from Minnesota: “Justice Stras’s approach to each case is rooted in respect for existing precedent, and he applies that precedent thoughtfully and analytically.  As a result, any litigant whose case comes before Justice Stras can be assured he will decide their case objectively and fairly.”

108 Minnesota lawyers, including 6 former Minnesota Supreme Court Justices: “In his seven years as a Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Justice Stras has distinguished himself not only as a top-notch jurist, but as a judge who decides cases without regard to political affiliation or party lines. He has sided with both “liberal” and “conservative” Justices during his tenure on the court, always in pursuit of applying the law as it comes to him, without ideology or favoritism.”

Former Clerks: “We can attest to his integrity, fairness, and intellectual rigor when dealing with the cases before him. He thoroughly examines all sides of every case. He strives to be fair to each litigant and to decide each case based on its legal merits, rather than the identities of the parties or the popularity of the outcome. Justice Stras’s decisions reflect a consistent approach to interpreting statutes and constitutions. In every case, large or small, he puts forth great effort to reach the result that best reflects the law and adheres to precedent.”

Former Supreme Court clerk colleagues: “Although David’s stellar qualifications speak for themselves, we can attest to his legal acumen, work ethic, and judgment. Perhaps more important, we can attest to David’s collegiality and temperament. Our Supreme Court term involved many difficult and contentious cases. Yet even when we disagreed, David treated us with the utmost respect and made lasting friendships across the aisle.”

Former colleagues from University of Minnesota Law School: “In his time at the University of Minnesota, David exhibited qualities that are important ones for any judge.  He engaged in debate respectfully, listening to opposing ideas while backing up his own views with facts and arguments.  He wanted our students to be exposed to a wide range of beliefs — for example, he was involved in bringing both Justice Clarence Thomas and consumer advocate Ralph Nader to the law school as distinguished speakers.”





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