Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has come under fire for votes she cast to confirm anti-LGBTQ judges appointed by President Donald Trump.
Of particular note, the U.S. senator from Minnesota in 2018 voted to confirm David Ryan Stras to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, despite his opposition to LGBTQ rights and comments deriding a landmark ruling striking down antisodomy laws.
Stras’s record was so bad that Lambda Legal urged senators to vote against his confirmation. “Justice Stras’s record raises serious concerns about his willingness to adhere to the Supreme Court’s landmark LGBT rights decisions,” reads a letter Lambda Legal submitted to the Senate.
The letter noted as recently as 2008, Stras critiqued the Supreme Court for inappropriately addressing “homosexual rights.”
“He further expressed skepticism about the core holding of Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling that struck down Texas’s sodomy law as an unconstitutional deprivation of liberty,” the letter continued. “He called into question his respect for the well-established fundamental rights of liberty, privacy and self-determination at the core of the ruling when he skeptically noted that sodomy bans violated privacy rights, at least ‘according to the Court.’”
Stras served on the Minnesota Supreme Court in Klobuchar’s home state, perhaps influencing her vote. But in that job, he supported the ruling allowing an anti-marriage quality amendment to appear on the ballot even with a misleading title. Minnesota ultimately rejected the amendment.
A spokeswoman for Klobuchar’s campaign told the Washington Blade that the senator suggested other candidates to the White House for the appeals court seat, but defended her vote to confirm.
“Her vote was based on the reality that given the choices, on balance she thought he was better than the other candidates who would have been nominated from other states,” said Carlie Waibel, Klobuchar’s press secretary. In addition to Minnesota, the Eighth Circuit covers North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and Arkansas.
“Judge Stras was recommended by liberal Justice Alan Page, who Sen. Klobuchar has great respect for, and in the vast majority of cases on the Minnesota Supreme Court Judge Stras sided with the majority, which included several Democratic-appointed justices,” Waibel added.
Stras was confirmed 56-42, and would have been confirmed without Klobuchar's vote.