Governors always leave a legacy. Occasional MN Governor Tim Pawlenty may be leaving more of an odor or maybe a uncouth hand gesture than a legacy. The appointment of U of M Professor David Stras exemplifies this legacy.
First, Stras has nearly zero court experience. This guy is going to be sitting on the MN Supreme Court and the most court experience he’s had is a helper on a federal case. As an attorney I know explained to me, he assisted on a federal case and did background work. Furthermore, he knows little about Minnesota legal precedent as he’s only been a professor at the U of M for five years. And seriously, how much experience has he gained as a prof at the U?
Second, a member of the Federalist Society is going to be sitting on our Supreme Court for the next 40 or so years. Stras is 35. In other words, we have someone who believes in judicial activism ala Scalia who wants to make sure that the federal government doesn’t encroach on state’s rights and the rest of the libertarian mumbo-jumbo that passes for philosophical thought on the right these days. Here’s a detailed expose from The Nation on the Federalist Society for some heavy weekend reading.
The two things Stras has done is clerk for Clarence Thomas and write a friend of the court brief supporting Pawlenty’s unallotment. I’ve been unable to find anything else … the guy is literally a blank slate or maybe an empty suit depending upon how you look at it.
But what does this say about the guy who appointed him? Let’s review.
Not only has a bridge fallen on Pawlenty’s watch, he’s overseen the gutting of our educational system. His tax cuts and borrow-n-spend fiscal policy combined with accounting shifts have left our state with a mind-bogglingly large structural deficit. Rather than negotiate a solution to the mess he created, he tried unallotment as a means to shrink our state government to the size where he could drown it in the bathtub. And now these two judicial appointments.
What I think Pawlenty is doing is giving MN the finger as he exits stage right or maybe the equivalent of passing some seriously noxious gas and locking us all in the room as he leaves.
His mindset has to be pretty sour at this point. His buddy and fellow conservative Eric Magnuson wouldn’t side with him on unallotment. I’m betting this really pissed him off. If he’d have been able to get away with unallotment, he could have played up what a wise and tough executive he is on the presidential campaign trail. I can imagine Pawlenty ranting about Magnuson stabbing him in the back on unallotment. So as a parting shot we get two conservative-to-their-core Justices who Pawlenty has the utmost confidence will be activists from the bench.
Fortunately, our Supreme Court doesn’t have the same power as the SCOTUS, but nonetheless, given the opportunity I’m sure Stras will try to impose his far right ideals on our state as much as he can.