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After Henry Lyons gave a student athlete an "F" in his course at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, a university committee determined that the student should get a second chance. The paper, graded by the committee, got a D+.

Lyons complained to the school's chancellor about the preferential treatment afforded student athletes and asked for an investigation. The university didn't offer him a job for the next semester, which Lyons said was retaliation for speaking out about the treatment of student athletes, a violation of his First Amendment rights.

In what The Associated Press called "a surprise," the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it would hear same-sex marriage appeals from South Dakota, Arkansas, and Missouri in a consolidated oral argument held the week of May 11 in Omaha, Nebraska.

The court agreed not only to consolidate all the cases, but to expedite the appeals. The court's ruling will definitely be influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in the Sixth Circuit same-sex marriage cases, which it will hear some time this term.

While we were away for the holidays, news surfaced that Robert McCulloch, the prosecutor who failed to secure an indictment against Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, may have withheld a teensy bit of information from the grand jury.

McCulloch said on December 19 that he put anyone who claimed to have seen the event in front of the grand jury, even if they were knowingly lying, and even if McCulloch knew they were lying.

Where does that get you?

Last week, the University of Iowa asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a second trial in the case of Teresa Wagner, a part-time writing instructor at the University of Iowa College of Law who claimed she was denied a full-time position because of her conservative politics.

In July, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said that Wagner was entitled to a second trial after the trial judge made a procedural misstep. So what's going on?

Ferguson is Burning While Questions Remain About Unusual Grand Jury

Ferguson is burning. The first night's casualties are in: dozens of burned and looted businesses in Ferguson, two police cruisers burned, bottles and rocks tossed at police officers and reporters alike, riots, sixty-one arrests, and more National Guard troops on the way, reports CNN and The New York Times.

And the riots weren't confined to Ferguson: reports of riots and looting popped up in even the most far away places, like Oakland, California, where protestors shut down the I-580 freeway, looted, and set fires as well, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Why? The disputed tale of the death of Michael Brown, alternatively portrayed as an aggressor who attacked a police officer or as the victim of an execution-style murder. After an unusual grand jury featuring "all the evidence" and testimony from Office Darren Wilson, there is no indictment -- only pain, protests, riots, and unanswered questions.

Throwback Thursday: Did 8th Cir. Already Rule on Gay Marriage Bans?

Last week, a federal district court in Missouri joined a chorus of state courts in striking down the state's ban on gay marriage. In doing so, that court set aside precedent from 2006 that many regarded as a controlling opinion on same-sex marriage bans: Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, an Eighth Circuit opinion upholding Nebraska's ban.

Judge Ortrie D. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri distinguished Bruning by classifying it as a political right-of-access case, rather than a case about a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

Was he right? And what impact does Bruning have today, post-Windsor?

Fed. Judge Joins State Judges, Strikes Missouri Gay Marriage Ban

And the Feds weigh in!

Two days ago, a state court judge held that Missouri's ban on gay marriages performed in the state was unconstitutional. A month before that, a second state judge held that the state's refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, we were wondering what was happening with the federal case.

The opinion was being proofread, apparently. Today, Judge Ortrie D. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri invalidated that state's law banning same-sex marriage, saying, quite interestingly, that it amounted to gender-based discrimination.

#ShowMeMarriage: Court Strikes SSM Ban; Mo. Reluctantly Appeals

Like dominos.

Last month, a state court in Kansas City held that the state of Missouri had to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. Earlier this week, a state court in St. Louis held that the state couldn't ban in-state gay marriages. The state declined to appeal the former case, but will appeal the latter case to the Missouri Supreme Court in order to get a statewide ruling.

Meantime, a federal case is pending in Jefferson City and the Eighth Circuit is one of the few that haven't addressed same-sex marriage since Windsor. Same-sex marriage definitely seems like a "when" rather than an "if" in this great state, but the legal path in Missouri certainly is interesting.

North Dakota has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Earlier this year, a federal judge said the law -- which prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be heard, which can be as soon as six weeks after conception -- was unconstitutional.

The state supreme court last week dealt with another provision of the law, this one outlawing non-surgical abortion by medication. The court's procedure requires four of the five justices to agree in order to rule a statute unconstitutional, but only three agreed. Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle and Justice Dale Sandstrom said the law was constitutional.

It's getting hard to keep track of all the states that introduced laws requiring voters to produce state-issued photo IDs in order to vote. You can take Arkansas off the list (oh, but you'll need to add it to the list of voter ID cases that could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court -- like the ones out of Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, and North Carolina).

On Wednesday, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a lower court's determination that Act 595, passed in 2013, was unconstitutional.