David Stras

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David Stras
Judge David Stras.png
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Assumed office
January 31, 2018
Appointed byDonald Trump
Preceded byDiana E. Murphy
Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
In office
July 1, 2010 – January 31, 2018
Appointed byTim Pawlenty
Preceded byLorie Gildea
Succeeded byPaul Thissen
Personal details
Born (1974-07-04) July 4, 1974 (age 47)
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Kansas (BA, MBA, JD)

David Ryan Stras (born July 4, 1974)[1][2] is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He is a former Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Stras was born in 1974 in Wichita, Kansas.[4][5] He received a Bachelor of Arts with highest honors and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kansas where he became a member of Theta Chi fraternity. In 1999, he earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas School of Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Criminal Procedure Edition of the Kansas Law Review.[6][7]


Stras first clerked for Judges Melvin Brunetti of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He then worked at the D.C. office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood for one year, after which he clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court.[7]

Stras was a professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2004 to 2010, teaching and writing in the areas of federal courts and jurisdiction, constitutional law, criminal law, and law and politics. He won the law school's Stanley V. Kinyon Tenure Track Teacher of the Year Award in 2006. While he was on the faculty of University of Minnesota Law School, he was also a counsel at Faegre & Bensen.[8] Stras also served as co-director of the Institute for Law and Politics.[7] He has contributed to research on such topics as judicial pensions and life tenure for judges. Stras has also studied judicial appointments and the politics of courts. He is a member of the Federalist Society.[9]

Stras was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Tim Pawlenty, with his term beginning on July 1, 2010.[7] He was sworn in on July 12, 2010, in a public ceremony.[10] Stras was elected to a six-year term in 2012. Prior to his appointment, he was a frequent guest on legal topics at Minnesota Public Radio. He is believed to be the first practicing Jewish justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court.[11] He was on President Donald Trump's list of potential Supreme Court justices.[12]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Nomination and confirmation[edit]

On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Stras to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit vacated by Judge Diana E. Murphy who took senior status on November 29, 2016.[13][14] On September 5, 2017, Minnesota Senator Al Franken announced that he would not return his blue slip for Stras.[15] On November 29, 2017, a hearing was held on his nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[16]

On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[17] On January 5, 2018, Trump announced his intent to renominate Stras to a federal judgeship.[18] On January 8, 2018, his renomination was sent to the Senate.[19] On January 18, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by a 13–8 vote. On January 30, 2018, David Stras's nomination to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the 8th Circuit was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 56–42.[20] He received his judicial commission on January 31, 2018.

Notable opinions[edit]

On August 23, 2018, Stras wrote a concurring opinion in a case challenging the Federal Housing Finance Agency's ability to hold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship and require that they pay their entire net worth to the United States Treasury every quarter. Stras argued that, while the statutory provision giving the FHFA such power was textually clear, Congress had "created a monster by handing an agency breathtakingly broad powers and insulating the exercise of those powers from judicial review."[21]

On August 23, 2019, Stras wrote an opinion for the Eighth Circuit ruling in favor of a Christian videography business challenging Minnesota's public accommodations law under the First Amendment. The Eighth Circuit found that the business owners could not be penalized for refusing to produce wedding videos of same-sex marriages. Stras noted that forcing the business owners to produce the videos would be a form of compelled speech, and was thus prohibited under the Free Exercise Clause.[22]

On November 6, 2019, Stras wrote a concurring opinion in a case challenging an Arkansas anti-loitering statute. Stras argued that the statewide injunction originally issued by the federal district court was an unjustified "universal preliminary injunction."[23] According to Stras, the history of injunctions in equity practice strongly suggests that injunctive relief, outside of class actions, should be limited to the parties before the court.

On November 20, 2021, Stras issued a sharply worded dissent criticizing the panel majority for relying on the North Dakota Department of Public Health's interpretation of a Clean Air Act regulation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. Stras argued that a state agency did not have the power to interpret a federal regulation and pointed out that deferring to such interpretations would harm separation of powers and federalism by giving interpretive authority to state executive officials, rather than federal judges properly situated to determine the meaning of federal law.[24] On June 1, 2021, the Eighth Circuit issued a new opinion which directly interpreted the federal regulation. Stras, again dissenting, hailed the majority for properly exercising "independent judgment" rather than deferring to the state agency's view, but also argued that the panel majority nonetheless did not interpret the regulatory text correctly.[25]

On July 30, 2021, Stras dissented from the Eighth Circuit's ruling that members of a St. Louis church lacked standing to challenge a county public health order restricting the size of religious gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stras argued that the Eighth Circuit's decision to dismiss the case "lock[ed] and deadbolt[ed] the courthouse door for a group of plaintiffs trying to challenge a stay-at-home order that specifically targeted “religious services and other spiritual practices.” Stras criticized the Eighth Circuit for failing to address the county's orders in a timely fashion, suggesting that the county would continue to issue orders burdening religious practice and that the Eighth Circuit's inaction would harm "important constitutional values."[26]

Personal life[edit]

Stras and his wife, Heather, have two children.[4] His grandmother is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary and his grandfather is a Holocaust survivor from Germany.[27]

Electoral history[edit]

Minnesota Supreme Court Primary Election, 2012[28][29]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan David Stras (incumbent) 139,218 48.8
Nonpartisan Tim Tinglestad 83,975 29.5
Nonpartisan Alan Nelson 61,942 21.7
Plurality 55,243 19.4
Total votes 285,135 100
Runoff election
Nonpartisan David Stras (incumbent) 1,141,951 56.0
Nonpartisan Tim Tinglestad 890,301 43.6
Nonpartisan Write-ins 8,687 0.4
Majority 251,650 12.3
Total votes 2,040,939 100

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Voruganti, Harsh (June 14, 2017). "Justice David R. Stras – Nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit". The Vetting Room. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  2. ^ Minnesota Lawyer Staff (October 5, 2012). "Minnesota Supreme Court, Seat 4: Stras v. Tingelstad". The Minnesota Lawyer. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Liptak, Adam (May 7, 2017). "Trump to Announce Slate of Conservative Federal Court Nominees". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Minnesota Supreme Court, Seat 4: Stras v. Tingelstad". Minnesota Lawyer. October 5, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  5. ^ "Professor Stras Named to Minnesota Supreme Court Bench". University of Minnesota Law School. May 13, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  6. ^ "Biographies of the Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court". Minnesota State Law Library. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d "Judge Profile: Associate Justice David R. Stras". Minnesota Judicial Branch. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  8. ^ Severino, Carrie (May 7, 2017). "Who is Justice David Stras?". National Review. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  9. ^ Sherman, Mark (November 17, 2016). "Justice Thomas: Honor Scalia by reining in government". Albuquerque Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  10. ^ "Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea, Justice David R. Stras Sworn In During Public Ceremony". Minnesota Judicial Branch. July 13, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  11. ^ Cohen, Mark (July 19, 2010). "Is Stras the first Jewish Minnesota high court justice?". MinnLawyer Blog. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  12. ^ COLVIN, JILL. "TRUMP UNVEILS LIST OF HIS TOP SUPREME COURT PICKS". Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 19, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  13. ^ Adler, Jonathan H. (May 7, 2017). "Here come Trump's judges: President to put forward more strong judicial nominees". Washington Post. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  14. ^ "Congressional Record". www.congress.gov.
  15. ^ Lucas, Scott (September 5, 2017). "Franken opposes Trump judicial nominee, setting up procedural clash". Politico. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  16. ^ United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary: Nominations for November 29, 2017
  17. ^ "Congressional Record", United States Senate, January 3, 2018
  18. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Renomination of 21 Judicial Nominees", White House, January 5, 2018
  19. ^ "Nominations Sent to the Senate Today", The White House, January 8, 2018
  20. ^ "Tuesday, January 30, 2018". January 30, 2018.
  21. ^ Saxton v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, vol. 901, May 15, 2018, p. 954, retrieved January 11, 2022
  22. ^ Tribune, Stephen Montemayor Star. "Federal appeals court rules for St. Cloud couple seeking to deny same-sex wedding film services". Star Tribune. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  23. ^ Rodgers v. Bryant, vol. 942, September 27, 2018, p. 451, retrieved January 11, 2022
  24. ^ Voigt v. Coyote Creek Min. Company, Llc, vol. 980, October 17, 2019, p. 1191, retrieved January 11, 2022
  25. ^ Voigt v. Coyote Creek Min. Company, Llc, vol. 999, December 30, 2020, p. 555, retrieved January 11, 2022
  26. ^ Hawse v. Page, vol. 7, April 19, 2021, p. 685, retrieved January 11, 2022
  27. ^ Bryan, Erin Elliott (October 10, 2012). "A Jew on Minnesota's high court". American Jewish World. Archived from the original on March 2, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  28. ^ "2012 Primary Election Results". Office of the Secretary of State of Minnesota. August 14, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  29. ^ "2012 General Election Results". Office of the Secretary of State of Minnesota. November 6, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2018.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Preceded by Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit