Nominee Judge Ralph Erickson Advances Through Judiciary Committee

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 21, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination to the federal appellate bench of federal district court judge Ralph Erickson by a vote of 20-0. Now Erickson will need to win the approval of the full Senate before becoming eligible to accept the position as the Eighth Circuit's newest jurist.

Though nominated in a nearly bi-polar political climate, Erickson's nomination has received bipartisan support, which should mean he will be a lock for the full Senate vote.

Who Is Judge Ralph Erickson?

Judge Erickson is as qualified as they come for judicial candidates for the federal appellate bench. He has served on the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota since 2003. He was appointed by President George W. Bush. Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, he worked in various county courts throughout the state of North Dakota, and even served as a state court judge for nearly a decade. From the local traffic court to the federal district court, Judge Erickson's breadth of experience is rather impressive.

Prior to serving on the judiciary, Erickson worked in private practice for a decade, after graduating law school from the University of North Dakota in 1984.

Pragmatic or Political?

One factor that is clearly weighing in Judge Erickson's favor involves his a-political demeanor that he exhibited during his confirmation hearing in July of this year. His answers seemed to focus on his pragmatic, rather than political, approach to judging.

One highlight from his hearing was the exchange between him and Senator Al Franken regarding Erickson's past struggle with alcoholism and his recovery. After jokingly pleading the Fifth in response to a joke question posed by Senator Franken about Erickson's recovery, Franken stated: "We need more alcoholics in our courts. Certainly in this circuit" (Note: he quickly added that he meant "recovering alcoholics").

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