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Morris Sheppard Arnold

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Title: Morris Sheppard Arnold  
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Morris Sheppard Arnold

Morris Arnold
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
In office
May 26, 1992 – October 9, 2006
Appointed by George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Donald Lay
Succeeded by Bobby Shepherd
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
In office
December 17, 1985 – May 26, 1992
Appointed by Ronald W. Reagan
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by Harry Barnes
Personal details
Born 1941 (age 72–73)
Texarkana, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Gail Kwaak
Alma mater University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Harvard University

Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (born 1941) is a senior-status jurist of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. A Republican, he was appointed to the appeals court by U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush. His tenure began on June 1, 1992. For his first twelve years, until 2004, he served on the court alongside his older brother, Richard S. Arnold, a Democrat appointed by President Jimmy Carter. Richard Arnold died of an infection while he was afflicted with long-term lymphoma. Because of new federal nepotism rules, two brothers are unlikely to serve again simultaneously on the same federal court in the future. He is also serving a 7-year term as judge on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, from 2008 to 2015 (presiding judge since 2012).[1]

Early years and education

Arnold was born in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lewis Arnold. He was a maternal grandson of U.S. Senator Morris Sheppard, a powerful Texas Democrat, also from Texarkana, who served from 1913 until his death in 1941.

Like his brother, Arnold attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, graduating in 1959. Thereafter, he received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1965 from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He then attended the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, having received the LL.B in 1968. He received master of laws (LL.M), and doctor of juridical science (SJD) degrees from Harvard University Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1969 and 1971, respectively. Arnold was a member of Sigma Pi at the University of Arkansas.

Law professor Arnold

Arnold practiced law briefly in Texarkana, Arkansas, in 1968, but he was primarily a law professor prior to his two court appointments. He was professor at Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington from 1971-1977. He was then the university vice president and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1977–1981, when he returned to Arkansas as a professor at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 1981 to 1984. He also practiced privately in Little Rock during those same years.

He was a special chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1982 and special master of the Pulaski County Chancery Court in 1983. He returned to Pennsylvania for the 1984-1985 year. In 1985, he was a visiting professor at Stanford University Law School in Palo Alto, California, and the dean, once again, of Indiana University Law School that same year, a position that he soon vacated.

Republican Party chairman

In 1982, Arnold was elected chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party with the support of defeated Governor Frank D. White. Earlier, Arnold had considered opposing White in the gubernatorial primary on grounds that the governor had alienated too many moderate Republicans and African Americans to be able to win another general election. Arnold succeeded the temporary chairman Robert "Bob" Cohee, who had taken the party helm in March 1982, on the death of Harlan H. "Bo" Holleman of Wynne in Cross County in eastern Arkansas. White was defeated in the fall campaign by former Governor Bill Clinton, a favorite of Judge Richard Arnold.

In a secret ballot on December 4, 1982, the Republican State Central Committee chose Arnold over Cohee. Arnold gained the support not only of outgoing Governor White but sitting U.S. Representatives John Paul Hammerschmidt and Edwin Bethune. Cohee had resigned a position as deputy director of the Arkansas Housing Development Agency in Little Rock to serve as a full-time unpaid chairman during the election. The exact vote of the 119 delegates was not released. Cohee said that he would have not sought a full term as chairman had he known that White, Hammerschmidt, and Bethune preferred Arnold. State Representative Carolyn Pollan of Fort Smith nominated Arnold, whom she called a "bringer-together, a unifier" who would offer "strong leadership". Arnold said that he would "like to be the guy that calls Bill Clinton out if he fails to keep his promises." Arnold retained his professorship and was a part-time chairman. He vowed to seek black support for the Arkansas GOP, much as the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller had done in the 1960s, but he admitted that it would be difficult to draw African Americans from Clinton. At any rate, Pollan and other Republicans hoped that Arnold could bridge the gulf in the party between the former Rockefeller backers, such as herself, and the more active Reagan people, such as White and former gubernatorial candidate Ken Coon.

Reagan-Bush appointee

On October 23, 1985, President Ronald W. Reagan nominated Morris Arnold to a new seat as judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, based in Fort Smith, the second largest Arkansas city. The Senate confirmed his nomination on December 16, and he received his commission on December 17.

Arnold left the district court in 1992 to assume a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which is based in St. Louis. Because the court works in three-judge panels, Arnold primarily operates from Little Rock. Bush had nominated Arnold on November 6, 1991. On October 9, 2006, Arnold assumed senior status, meaning his workload was reduced with greater opportunity to concentrate in detail on fewer cases.

Two major Arnold cases

Arnold wrote a 2001 opinion that a life sentence for selling a small amount of crack cocaine constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. "It is unusual for any court to find that a sentence violates the Eighth Amendment," said the attorney J. Thomas Sullivan of Little Rock, a professor of criminal law at UALR's William H. Bowen School of Law. Sullivan represented defendant Grover Henderson before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis. Arnold's decision reversed U.S. District Judge James M. Moody's refusal to dismiss Henderson's 1996 petition for habeas corpus.

As part of another three-judge panel, Judge Arnold declared Arkansas' donor limits on campaign contributions to be "unconstitutionally low." The ruling struck down the state's Initiated Act 1 of 1996 which was passed by two-thirds of those voting on the issue. The initiative sought to limit contributions to $300 per election for state constitutional offices and $100 per election for other state and local races.

Morris declared the limits an infringement on the public's First Amendment right to contribute financially to a candidate of one's choice. The judges also ruled that a provision in the law allowing small-donor Political Action Committees to contribute more per election than other such committees violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Judge Arnold today

Though he remains on the court, Arnold's successor is Bobby E. Shepherd of El Dorado in southern Arkansas, the nominee of President George W. Bush. Shepherd had previously served as a United States magistrate in the Western District of Arkansas based in Fort Smith.

Arnold maintains a keen interest in the study of history, particularly Arkansas history, which he insists needs more emphasis in public schools. He has long worked with the Arkansas History Commission on various initiatives.

Arnold and his wife, the former Gail Kwaak, live in Little Rock. Coincidentally, Richard Arnold's first wife was named "Gale", the former Gale Hussman of Camden.

Within a month of taking senior status, Judge Arnold was stricken by a heart attack while he was on court business in St. Louis. He underwent successful stent surgery.

On January 23, 2013, Congressman Tim Griffin introduced H.R. 388, which would rename the United States Bankruptcy Courthouse in Little Rock the Morris Sheppard Arnold United States Courthouse.[2]

External links

  • Little Rock Arkansas Gazette, December 5, 1982
  • Federal Judicial Center.


Legal offices
New seat Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Harry Barnes
Preceded by
Donald Lay
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Succeeded by
Bobby Shepherd

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