U.S. Eighth Circuit

U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Constitutional precedent is clear. The Roe v. Wade Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause provides a qualified right to women to terminate a pregnancy. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court reiterated that before viability (generally understood to be 24 weeks), a State's "interests are not strong enough to support an abortion prohibition or the imposition of substantial obstacles to the woman's effective right to elect the procedure."

Nonetheless, many states continue to pass legislation that appears to be facially unconstitutional. Arkansas is one of them.

Quite a few cases making the rounds in the Eighth Circuit are making headlines and deal with everything from Wizard of Oz merchandise, to kosher hot dogs. Here's a breakdown in the latest news out of the Eighth Circuit.

Iowa Campaign Finance Ban

In 2013, the Eighth Circuit upheld an Iowa law that "allow[s] for independent expenditures by corporations and unions but ... ban[s] ... direct contributions to candidates and committees by corporations," reports Reuters. An anti-abortion group challenged the ban, and petitioned for writ of certiorari, which the Supreme Court denied on Monday. This is highly interesting light of the Court's ruling last week in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission; it shows the Court has said all that it wants to for now on campaign finance.

Randall Jackson was incarcerated in Missouri, at the Western Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center ("WRDCC"). To be eligible for early release on parole, he had to complete the Offenders Under Treatment Program ("OUTP"), which dealt with substance abuse. Jackson is an atheist, the program is non-secular, and you can probably see where this is headed.

The OUTP

According to his complaint, Jackson alleged that the OUTP "had required meetings [and] invoked religious tenets by using the serenity prayer and religious meditations." When he objected and notified the staff, they advised him "to assume a role or attitude even if you don't like it" and to interpret God "as an acronym for 'good orderly direction.'"

8th Cir. Clarifies 401(k) Float Income Ownership, Fiduciary Duties

The Eighth Circuit recently issued a decision in a 401(k) fiduciary lawsuit that is raising questions about "float income" -- interest earned from plan assets.

At issue is the handling of funds that flow into and out of 401(k) plans and the question of who profits from the float income generated while the money is held by a service provider -- in this case, Fidelity Investments -- before its investment or before it is it cashed by participants.

If you're in the retirement plan industry, you might want to take a look at the court's decision in Ronald C. Tussey v. ABB Inc.

Martha Shoffner Seeks Post-Conviction Acquittal

Lawyers for Arkansas treasurer Martha Shoffner argued before U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes that Shoffner should be acquitted on 14 bribery and extortion charges.

Holmes withheld judgment on Shoffner's earlier request to be ordered free on grounds that prosecutors didn't prove that any federal laws were broken. But Holmes opted to entertain the argument only if the jury returned any guilty verdicts, The Associated Press reports.

A jury convicted Shoffner last week, clearing the way for both sides to present written arguments to Holmes on why she should or should not be acquitted.

Westboro Baptist Church Founder Dies, Funeral Protest Law Upheld

Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church -- the Kansas congregation known for picketing funerals with anti-gay signs -- died late Wednesday at the age of 84, CNN reports.

His death and reported excommunication from the church dovetails with a recent decision by U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan, Jr., bringing closure to a nearly eight-year long legal fight over the group's funeral protests.

Can Employer Tell Breastfeeding Mom 'Go Home to Your Babies'?

Employment discrimination with respect to breastfeeding at work is garnering attention in courts across the nation. The Eighth Circuit recently tackled the issue in the context of constructive discharge.

The court affirmed a district court's grant of summary judgment to an employer embroiled in a pregnancy and sex discrimination case for compelling a breastfeeding's worker's resignation.

Ex-Police Chief Affair Lawsuit Tossed; 8th Cir. Appeal Possible

A district court judge has dismissed a woman's lawsuit against the city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and its former police chief Alex Moreno.

The suit involves dramatic allegations and tales of intrigue: police power, a sexual rendezvous, and harassment.

Albeit a lusty page-turner, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf was unmoved by Tamara Villanueva's claims and dismissed the suit.

Beatrice Six Appeals Wrongful Conviction Case to 8th Cir.

The Eighth Circuit will consider reinstating Gage County as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit over the wrongful conviction of six people, dubbed the "Beatrice Six," for the 1985 murder of a Nebraska woman.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf dismissed Gage County from the case. This week, he granted the plaintiffs' motion to have the Eight Circuit review his dismissal of the county as a defendant, The Omaha World Herald reports.

Holt v. Hobbs: SCOTUS to Review Ark. Prison Beard Growing Policy

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the challenge a Muslim man has brought against the grooming policies at an Arkansas prison -- a policy the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld as constitutional.

The case will turn on the Court's analysis of the Arkansas Department of Corrections' purported security needs and the level of deference the Court shows the ADC.