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Professor Stras Named to Minnesota Supreme Court Bench

MAY 13, 2010—David Stras, the University of Minnesota Law School's Vance K. Opperman Research Scholar, co-director of the Institute for Law and Politics, and an affiliated associate professor in the Department of Political Science, was appointed Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court by Gov. Tim Pawlenty ('86) today.

Stras has been a member of the Law School faculty since 2004 and was promoted to full professor in December 2009. He teaches and writes in the areas of federal courts and jurisdiction, constitutional law, criminal law, law and politics, and law and economics. His research has focused on the federal judiciary and a variety of issues relating to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he is a frequent television and radio commentator on those topics.

"David is an outstanding and thoughtful scholar," said Law School Dean David Wippman. "This is a wonderful tribute to his work and an exciting opportunity for him to help shape the Court's future. While we will be very sorry to lose David as a full-time member of our faculty, we hope very much that he will remain as engaged in the life of the Law School as his new duties permit."

Stras currently serves as faculty advisor to the Minnesota Law Review and as an advisor to students in the clerkship application process. In 2007, he was named the Stanley V. Kinyon Tenure-Track Teacher of the Year. He is also co-editor of an SSRN journal on law and politics and a regular contributor to SCOTUSblog and Empirical Legal Studies blog.

He serves on the Executive Committees of the Litigation Practice Group and the Federalism and Separation of Powers Practice Group of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, and of the Section on Federal Courts of the Association of American Law Schools. He is a member of state and national bar associations and is also an elected member of the American Law Institute.

"Professor Stras is recognized as one of the brightest legal scholars in Minnesota," Pawlenty said in a press release announcing his Supreme Court selections. "He is extremely well-versed in appellate matters and is currently of counsel at Faegre & Benson, LLP, specializing in assisting clients in cases before the Minnesota and federal appellate courts. I am impressed with his tremendous intellectual and legal abilities. He will be a strong presence on the Minnesota Supreme Court for many years."

Stras was born in Wichita, Kansas. He received his B.A., with highest distinction, and his M.B.A. at the University of Kansas. In 1999 he completed his J.D. at the University of Kansas School of Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Criminal Procedure Edition of the Kansas Law Review and graduated with the highest academic honors, including the Order of the Coif. After law school, he clerked for Judge Melvin Brunetti of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

He practiced white-collar criminal and appellate litigation with the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood for a year and then clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. This spring, Justice Thomas joined Stras at the Law School to co-teach a weeklong seminar on the constitution.

The opening on the seven-member Minnesota Supreme Court was created by Chief Justice Eric Magnuson's announcement that he will retire June 30, 2010. Pawlenty selected current Associate Justice Lori Skjerven Gildea to take over the chief justice role, and Stras will fill her position. Gildea received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota Morris in 1983 and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1986. A former Hennepin County judge and former associate general counsel at the University of Minnesota, she joined the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2006.

Portrait of Professor Howland

Professor Stras