One down, two to go: Senate Confirms Erickson to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

By: Rox Laird on October 5th, 2017

The Senate on September 28, 2017, confirmed U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson to replace Kermit Bye of North Dakota, filling one of three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit.

Omaha lawyer Steven Grasz seems likely to sail through the Senate to replace former Chief Judge William Jay Riley.

Minnesota Senator Al Franken, however, has thrown up a road block on the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to replace Judge Diana Murphy, who has taken senior status.

Franken announced recently that he would not return his “blue slip” on the nominee to the Judiciary Committee, saying Stras would be too conservative.

The blue slip is a senatorial courtesy extended to home-state senators of federal court nominees, and it would mean the end of Stras’ hopes of joining the court. That is if Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley sticks with the tradition of not moving judicial nominees until both home-state senators have signed off.

Grassley said recently the blue slip tradition is intended for district judges, whose jurisdiction is limited to their home states, not to circuit courts of appeals that have jurisdiction over several states. Other Senate Republicans say the tradition is meant to delay, not permanently block, nominations, although both parties have used it to that end.

In any case, the battle over the Minnesota nominee could have implications for the federal judicial confirmation process far beyond the Eighth Circuit.

For more background on recent appointments to the Eighth Circuit, see the previous article Trump Administration has three vacancies to fill on the Eighth Circuit.

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On Brief is devoted to appellate litigation, with a focus on the Iowa Supreme Court, the Iowa Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
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