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

Recently in Civil Rights Law Category

Arkansas Abortion Pill Ruling Stands

Planned Parenthood can't get past the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

For the third time in as many months, the appeals court has handed Planned Parenthood a defeat. This time, the justices refused to reconsider a prior decision that upheld a law that restricts access to abortion pills.

"This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge after the last decision in Planned Parenthood v. Jegley.

In what is undoubtedly a tragic case, a state trooper shot and killed a dog that was loose on the highway. Sadly, in Hansen v. Black, the owners were left with no legal remedy as the courts have ruled the officer's actions were reasonable.

The dog had gotten loose and was causing havoc for drivers. The officer attempted to get the dog off the highway, but it did not respond to his commands, and kept running away when chased. Ultimately, the officer had to shoot the dog twice before it went into the median and collapsed. Then, the officer shot the wounded animal two more times to put it down and end its suffering.

Eighth Circuit Sends Back Abortion Decision

A Planned Parenthood victory dance over an abortion law lasted shorter than most White House jobs, as a federal appeals vacated an injunction in Arkansas.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said Planned Parenthood didn't show that the state's law was a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortion services. The law required that doctors who provide miscarriage pills must have hospital privileges in the event of complications.

"This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Ferguson Police to Stand Trial

Dorian Johnson will get his day in court against Ferguson police for using excessive force that killed his friend three years ago.

Johnson was not injured in the incident but sued for civil rights violations and "unconstitutional law-enforcement practices." The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, turning away an appeal by the city in Johnson v. City of Ferguson, ruled that his case will go forward.

Michael Brown was not as fortunate. He died of gunshot wounds as he ran that day on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

8th Circuit Upholds Minnesota's Sex Offender Law

"Minnesota has the highest per capita population of civilly committed sex offenders in the nation."

This is mentioned as little more than a footnote in the Eighth Circuit decision, upholding the state's sex offender program against claims of unconstitutionality. But that one sentence almost tells the whole story.

In 1994, the state enacted the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. It provides specialized sex offender assessment, diagnosis, care, treatment, supervision, and other services to civilly committed sex offenders. It has received 714 people, but no one has been fully discharged from the program and only three have been provisionally discharged from the program. That's where the case begins.

8th Circuit Rules Double Amputee's Rights Were Violated

Police officers may not enjoy qualified immunity protection following the Eighth Circuit's reversal of a lower court's dismissal of a 2012 case. In a 2-1 decision, the controversy has been remanded back to the lower federal district court.

The plaintiff in this case was a double amputee who sustained physical injuries and also claimed his encounter with the police injured him mentally.

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.