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8th Circuit: Scanning Credit Cards Is Not a Search

After a recent ruling by the Eighth Circuit, police can access the information on the back of your credit/debit/gift card without having to obtain a search warrant first. Why? Because it's not a search under the Fourth Amendment, the circuit ruled. If this doesn't scare you, perhaps it should, because it has the potential to undermine the digital privacy law as recently laid out by Riley v. California.

Here, there seems to be a colorable argument to be made that the Eighth Circuit's opinion cuts against a reasonable application of Riley as it might apply to credit cards. Should cell phone law apply to magnetic strips?

8th Cir. Revives Federal Claims by Michael Brown Juror

Federal claims by one of the jurors in the Michael Brown case were revived by the Eighth Circuit. Additional controversy in the critical "Black Lives Matter" case was stirred when the anonymous juror -- known only as "Jane Doe" -- suggested that not all jurors unanimously agreed not to indict police officer Darren Wilson.

Doe, who apparently feels quite strongly about her opinion, faces the possibility of having misdemeanor counts brought against her for disclosing the goings-on of jury deliberations, according to the Associated Press.

State regulators didn't violate the First Amendment rights of a Nebraska financial adviser when they looked into his regulatory compliance, in part because of his participation in the Tea Party movement and public criticisms of President Barack Obama, the Eighth Circuit ruled today.

Robert Bennie, Jr., had been a vocal critic of the president's, calling him a communist and an "evil man" in an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star. He'd also been playing loose with state disclosure requirements, regulators believed. So, when workers at the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance started asking questions about Bennie's work, they also touched on his "polarizing" political activities. But while those questions might have crossed a line, they weren't enough for a reasonable person to stop exercising their free speech rights, according to the Eighth Circuit.

NFL Players Waited Too Long to Challenge Non-Commercial Protected Videos

In yet another Lanham Act controversy, the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment on multiple theories brought by disgruntled football players who claimed the NFL had violated their privacy and misled the public through their films.

In a pithily worded opinion, the court quickly detailed why the players' suit should fail.

Deputy Gets Qualified Immunity in Denial of Medical Treatment Case

A deputy's decision to cart an arrestee to the county jail instead of the hospital following major hand injuries was validated by the Eighth Circuit. The deputy will enjoy qualified immunity for his actions. The plaintiff sued under theories of violations of his constitutional rights.

Apparently, under the circumstances, a "layman" like the officer himself would not have been obviously alerted of the serious need for prompt medical treatment.

Can an Orthodontist Practice Basic Dentistry? Arkansas Must Decide

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has remanded an orthodontist's case back to the lower federal court, which can now hear the pressing legal issue of whether or not he, as a licensed dentist, can practice as a dentist.

The case will potentially shed some light on the somewhat perplexing law that limits one of the state's professional licenses.

8th Circuit to Review American Sniper 'Scruff Face' Award

Jesse Ventura's defamation suit has landed at the doorstep of the 8th Circuit. Although the final decision is potentially months away, legal scholars and big business are already at the sidelines waiting with bated breath.

The lawsuit is a direct result of an account that Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (now deceased) claimed took place in a California bar in 2006. In his book, Kyle claimed that the then anonymous "celebrity" Navy SEAL known only as "Scruff Face" spoke offensively about the SEALs and that Kyle just had to straighten him out. The stakes? Only what must be proven to support a defamation claim and the very limits of what is protected speech in America. Opinion pieces on the legal implications make for stimulating reading.

By the way, "Scruff Face" is Ventura.

Has the Eighth Circuit lost it? Or is it just the one voice of reason in our appellate courts? Why do we ask?

The Eighth Circuit has ruled that Obamacare's contraception opt out -- the part of the Affordable Care Act that allows religious nonprofits to avoid directly providing contraception to their employees -- violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and burdens employers' exercise of religion. In its two rulings issued Thursday, the Eighth stands alone. Similar arguments have been rejected by seven other circuit courts.

Supreme Court here we come!

It was Gay Marriage Day in the Eighth Circuit last Tuesday. No, there wasn't any extra same-sex nuptials, parades, or celebrations. Rather, the circuit court took Tuesday to formally strike down the same-sex marriage bans, following the Supreme Court's ruling nine weeks ago.

As a result of this decision, the same-sex marriage bans in South Dakota, Arkansas, and Nebraska are just about finito. Of course, that doesn't mean the controversial issue is entirely settled. Some county clerks in nearby states are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while gay rights advocates are now moving to challenge other discriminatory laws and practices.

In June, the Eighth Circuit struck down an Arkansas law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A few weeks later, the circuit tossed a similar law in North Dakota. In both cases, the Eighth Circuit ruled reluctantly, lamenting that it was bound by Supreme Court precedent.

Now, the ridicule has started rolling in, not because of the Court's holding, but because of the opinions themselves. The opinion in the North Dakota case, authored by Judge Bobby Shepherd, has been particularly targeted. Slate described it as "anti-science." The Economist said it read more like "novice high-school debate speech than a ruling by a federal appellate judge." What's all the hubbub about?