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

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Sen. Al Franken Opposes New 8th Cir. Nominee

Live from Minnesota, it's Sen. Al Franken's night.

The former Saturday Night Live star is rising in American politics after he effectively blocked President Trump's nomination to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Franken has withheld his "blue slip" approval of the nominee, Judge David Stras, forcing even staunch Democrats to concede the point.

"The purpose of the blue slip is to ensure consultation between the White House and home-state senators on judicial nominees from their states," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. "I expect the committee to honor Sen. Franken's decision not to return a blue slip, as was always done when Republican senators didn't return blue slips on President Obama's nominees."

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When the Harris News Agency applied for a federal license to sell guns, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives denied their application on the grounds that the company's officers had willfully allowed a felon to possess firearms by letting him work as a gunsmith.

But, simply allowing a felon to work with guns isn't reason enough to deny the license, the Eighth Circuit ruled on Tuesday.

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.

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?

Not everyone can transition between politics and the silver screen as easily as Arnold Schwarzenegger -- or even Al Franken. Former Arkansas governor and perennial presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hasn't had an easy go of it.

In a case of "I Don't Heart Huckabee," the politician is facing a $5 million class action lawsuit alleging that he violated telemarketing laws by sending millions of prerecorded robocalls promoting the 2012 flop "Last Ounce of Courage." Huckabee's not getting any help from the Eighth Circuit, either, as that court just reversed a district court's dismissal and allowed the suit to go forward.

A $42 million settlement between the National Football League and former players can go ahead following the Eighth Circuit's dismissal of a challenge by six dissenting players. The settlement attempted to bring to an end disagreement over the use of former player's likenesses and identities in promotional films.

A handful of players, led by Jim Marshall, objected to the compromise on the grounds that it did not provide direct payouts to former players, instead giving the millions to a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the health and welfare of retired players. The settlement effected over 25,000 class members -- though some of them might not remember to sign up. Loss of memory due to concussion, as well as other serious ailments, remains endemic among former NFL athletes.

The NFL Players Association has submitted its briefs to the Eight Circuit regarding the overturned suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson was suspended by the NFL after he was accused of physically abusing his son. A district court reversed that suspension, finding that the NFL's domestic abuse policy was new and couldn't be retroactively applied to actions Peterson took in the past.

The NFL's appeal of that ruling is now currently pending in the Eight Circuit. In their filings, the Players Association -- essentially a union for NFL athletes -- argues, unsurprisingly, that the district court was correct in throwing out Peterson's suspension.

Judge Myron Bright has sat on the Eighth Circuit longer than many of those reading this have been alive. For 47 years, Bright has served on the court, continuing to hear cases and author opinions to this day. Needless to say, he's the longest-serving judge in the history of the circuit. At 95 years old, he has no plans to retire anytime soon. Instead, he will continue to hear up to 50 cases this year.

Bright's good friend and then-senator, Quentin Burdick, recommended him for a judgeship to President Lyndon Johnson. According to Bright, LBJ chose him over Robert F. Kennedy for the seat. Over his years on the court, Judge Bright has made significant rulings, particularly in the realm of employment discrimination and environmental law.

Family of Michael Brown Sues City of Ferguson, Darren Wilson

As expected, the family of Michael Brown filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Ferguson, Missouri, its former police chief, and former police officer Darren Wilson.

Brown was killed by Wilson in an altercation last year, which began the most recent national conversation about young black men being shot by white police officers. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson for Brown's death, leading to accusations that the prosecution stacked the evidence in Wilson's favor, and then to protests in Ferguson and elsewhere.