Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary unanimously approved Judge Ralph Erickson of Fargo to serve as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which includes North Dakota. Today’s approval is the final step before Erickson’s nomination receives a vote in the full U.S. Senate.

In July, Heitkamp helped introduce Erickson during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination. At the hearing, she underscored the respect and admiration Erickson has earned from both Republicans and Democrats in North Dakota over his storied legal career in the state, and urged her colleagues on the Committee to support his nomination.

“In times when partisanship can have too strong of a pull, it’s encouraging when both sides of the aisle can come together in unified agreement on the qualifications and integrity of an individual who has been nominated for one of the most prestigious and important legal jobs,” said Heitkamp. “By unanimously approving Judge Ralph Erickson – who for years has been lauded by both Republicans and Democrats in North Dakota – my colleagues are not just filling a seat on a federal bench, they are ensuring that the people who stand before the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will be served by a highly regarded jurist who has empathy for those who come before him and their circumstances. Throughout his career, Judge Erickson has shown an understanding of Indian law and a respect for tribal sovereignty in his opinions – a critical qualification for any judge sitting on the Eighth Circuit. It’s my hope that the full U.S. Senate works quickly to vote in kind with this Committee so Judge Erickson can begin the important work of serving the Eighth Circuit.”

Judge Ralph Erickson currently serves on the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota where he has served since 2003. Erickson served as the Chief Judge of the District of North Dakota from 2009-2016. He currently serves as the chair of the United States Sentencing Commission’s Tribal Issues Advisory Group.

Erickson was born in Thief River Falls, Minnesota and he currently resides in Fargo, North Dakota. He graduated from the now University of Jamestown and the University of North Dakota School of Law. Following law school, Erickson joined the law firm Ohnstad Twichell, P.C. in West Fargo, North Dakota as an associate. He worked as a solo practitioner from 1991-1994. Prior to his appointment to the Federal bench, Judge Erickson was a judge on the North Dakota state district court for eight years.

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Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov