David Stras of Minnesota has been an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court since 2010. After his initial appointment, he was elected to a six-year term in 2012. Prior to his judicial service, Judge Stras worked as a legal academic at the University of Minnesota Law School. In his time there, he wrote extensively about the function and structure of the judiciary. Justice Stras received his law degree and an M.B.A. from the University of Kansas. He clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas.
—Donald Trump Statement on Potential Supreme Court Justices
Rew v. Bergstrom
Justice Stras’ majority opinion upheld a fifty-year “Order for Protection (OFP) filed by Rew against Bergstrom. Justice Stras held that the length of the order did not violate the first amendment, but did find that the OFP could not extend past the eighteenth birthdays of Rew’s minor children.
Sleiter v. American Family Mutual Insurance, Co.
Justice Stras dissented from a majority opinion allowing crash survivors to seek reimbursement for expenses that exceeded the state’s cap on payments for damages caused by uninsured motorists. Justice Stras argued that the plain language of the statute foreclosed any ability to go above the state cap.
In re Guardianship of Tschumy
A majority of the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a guardian can order the removal of a patient’s feeding tube without further review. In dissent, Justice Stras argued that the court had no case or controversy in front of it because Tschumy died one day before the district court ordered the tube removed. Justice Stras argued that the court is not a “junior varsity” legislature called on to make policy decisions.
State v. Bernard
In dissent, Justice Stras argued that a state law requiring a passenger in a vehicle submit to DUI testing or face more serious punishment undermined Fourth Amendment principles and “nullif[ied] the warrant requirement” in every DUI case.
State v. Ali
In dissent, Justice Stras reasons that it is not the court’s job to fix statutes deemed unconstitutional. Rather than rewrite the offending language, courts are simply to strike down the law as unconstitutional and let the legislature make the appropriate amendment.
Frederick Farms v. County of Olmstead
Frederick Farms owned 300 contiguous acres of land, and its sole shareholder, James Frederick, personally owned and lived on eighty additional contiguous acres of land. Mr. Frederick farmed all 380 acres. Frederick Farms wanted to claim an agricultural-homestead exception for the entire 380 acres in order to enjoy lower taxes. Justice Stras held that the 300 acres owned by Frederick Farms were not entitled to such a tax classification, because the relevant tax provision prohibits an “actively farming shareholder” such as Mr. Frederick from owning another agricultural homestead in Minnesota. Although Frederick claimed the entire 380 acres represented a joint family venture, the court disagreed, reasoning that the 300 acres were owned by the family farm corporation, not by the joint family farm venture.