Morris S. Arnold

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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
Chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas
In office
Preceded by Bob Cohee
Succeeded by Bob Leslie
Personal details
Born (1941-10-08) October 8, 1941 (age 76)
Texarkana, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Gail Kwaak Arnold
Alma mater University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Harvard University

Morris Sheppard Arnold, sometimes known as Buzz Arnold (born October 8, 1941)[1] is a judge on 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 served as judge on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, beginning in 2008 and ending in 2013.[2]

Early years and education

Arnold was born in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Mr and Mrs Richard Lewis Arnold. He is 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 (S.J.D.) 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. His primary academic interest was English legal history particularly in the medieval period, his S.J.D. thesis having been written on the assize of novel disseisin under the direction of Prof. Samuel Thorne. As a professor, Arnold edited two volumes for the Selden Society on cases of trespass in the royal courts. 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 the University of Pennsylvania for the 1984-1985 year and hence resigned his Republican state party chairmanship. 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 1981, Arnold became general counsel to the Arkansas Republican Party. In December 1982, with the support of defeated Governor Frank D. White and the state's two Republican U.S. representatives, Ed Bethune and John Paul Hammerschmidt, he was named state party chairman, a post he held for only a year.[3] 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 Bob Cohee of Baxter County, who had taken the party helm in March 1982, on the death of Harlan Holleman of Wynne in Cross County in eastern Arkansas. Governor 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. 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 during 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.[4]

Colonial Arkansas history scholar

Arnold is also known for his scholarship on colonial Arkansas history.[5] In 1985, Arnold first published Unequal Laws unto a Savage Race: European Legal Traditions in Arkansas, 1686-1836.[6] He first published Colonial Arkansas, 1686–1804: A Social and Cultural History[7] in 1991. In 2000, Arnold first published The Rumble of a Distant Drum: Quapaws and Old World Newcomers, 1673–1804,[8] which won the Booker Worthen Literary Prize and the S. G. Ragsdale Award for Arkansas History.[9]

In 1994, the French government named Arnold a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques for his scholarship, and in 2001, Arnold was awarded the Porter Prize.[10]

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.

Three major Arnold cases

As a federal judge in the Western District of Arkansas Arnold presided over a conspiracy involving sedition and plotted murder of federal officials. Fourteen defendants were tried, Arnold directed a verdict of acquittal for one and the other thirteen were acquitted by the jury.

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.

Personal life and honors

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 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.[11]

External links


  3. "Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (1941- )". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  4. Arkansas Gazette, November 14, 1982, December 5, 1982; Arkansas Democrat, December 5, 1982
  6. Arnold, Morris (June 1, 1985). Unequal laws unto a savage race: European legal traditions in Arkansas, 1686-1836. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 0938626760. 
  7. Arnold, Morris (1991). Colonial Arkansas, 1686-1804: A Social and Cultural History. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1557283176. 
  8. Arnold, Morris (2000). The Rumble of a Distant Drum: Quapaws and Old World Newcomers, 1673-1804. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-590-4. 
  9. "THE RUMBLE OF A DISTANT DRUM: The Quapaws and Old World Newcomers, 1673–1804". University of Arkansas Press. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  10. "The Honorable Morris Sheppard Arnold" (PDF). 
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Cohee
Chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Bob Leslie
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