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

February 2014 Archives

Engaged Nebraska Inmates Suing for Right to Marry: ACLU Lawsuit

The ACLU of Nebraska filed a lawsuit against Nebraska prison officials for preventing two engaged inmates from getting married.

The lawsuit, against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Director Michael Kenney, and two wardens, was filed on behalf of inmates Paul Gillpatrick and Niccole Wetherell, who have been engaged for more than two years.

The merits of their "right to marry" case will turn on whether the restrictions are related to a legitimate penological interest and the prison's willingness to use technology. Ah, love in the digital age.

45 Years Later: A Look Back at Tinker, Students, and Free Speech

On February 24, 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that neither students nor teachers "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

The well-known case Tinker v. Des Moines permits school administrators to restrict students' free speech rights when that free speech is likely to cause substantial disruption.

The landmark case celebrated its 45th anniversary this week.

8th Cir. Judge Almost Made It To SCOTUS Bench, Says Clinton Memo

People often don't know that Justice Stephen Breyer edged out a judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for his spot on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was 1994, and Justice Harry Blackmun announced his retirement. Just one year prior, President Bill Clinton appointed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Court, instead of Stephen Breyer. His job interview apparently didn't go well because of a bike accident -- something he's known for getting into.

Newly uncovered documents from Diane Blair, a confidante of Hillary Clinton who documented the power couple's conversations, reveal there was actually a fair amount of drama involved in the decision-making process of Clinton's second SCOTUS appointment.

Fremont Votes to Ban Hiring, Renting to Undocumented Immigrants

The town of Fremont, Nebraska voted to uphold an ordinance prohibiting employers and landlords from hiring or renting to undocumented immigrants.

The measure, approved in 2010, survived a constitutional challenge before the Eighth Circuit.

Despite staving off a slew of legal challenges and passing yet again by popular vote, the ban may not be free from legal scrutiny just yet.

Flashing Headlights to Warn Drivers Is Free Speech: Dist. Court

Drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn others about an upcoming speed trap, U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey has ruled.

Autrey made waves in Missouri last week after he granted a preliminary injunction that bars the city of Ellisville from enforcing its ordinance against flashing headlights at a speed trap warning.

Given the novelty of the issue, it's possible that the Eighth Circuit will eventually hear an appeal of the case.

V-Day for Law Students: Fall in Love With Pro Bono Work

This Valentine's Day, law students in the Eighth Circuit should rekindle their flame with humanity. Go ahead, take a break from fretting about your classes and job prospects, and show some love to your community.

Plus, it's the gift that keeps on giving. You may not realize it, but doing pro bono work can improve your job prospects.

How's that for a socially acceptable love affair?

In Workplace Claims Against Many Supervisors, Focus on Individuals

A jury will determine whether five African American prison guards endured a hostile work environment, an Eighth Circuit panel ruled.

The appeals court ruled that the lower court erroneously granted summary judgment to all of the defendants. The appeals panel affirmed most of the dismissals, but reinstated claims against three of the supervisors, demonstrating how crucial it is to differentiate between supervisors.

The takeaway: even in employment settings conducive to mob mentalities (such as prisons and law enforcement), always present evidence of individual acts of discriminatory behavior.

Looking for Appellate Skills? Check Out WUSTL's Appellate Clinic

Law students who are looking for hands-on experience in the appellate realm in circuits that allow law students to make court appearances may want to look into appellate clinics.

One such clinic, the Appellate Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis, lets students represent pro se litigants in cases to be heard by the Eighth Circuit. It's among only a handful of programs nationally that provide law students with an opportunity to represent clients in appellate cases.