Morris S. Arnold

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Morris Sheppard Arnold
Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
In office
May 19, 2012 – August 31, 2013
Appointed byJohn Roberts
Preceded byBruce M. Selya
Succeeded byWilliam Curtis Bryson
Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
In office
May 19, 2008 – May 19, 2012
Appointed byJohn Roberts
Preceded byBruce M. Selya
Succeeded byJosé A. Cabranes
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Assumed office
October 9, 2006
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
In office
May 26, 1992 – October 9, 2006
Appointed byGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byDonald P. Lay
Succeeded byBobby Shepherd
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
In office
December 17, 1985 – June 1, 1992
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded bySeat established by 98 Stat. 333
Succeeded byHarry F. Barnes
Chair of the Arkansas Republican Party
In office
Preceded byBob Cohee
Succeeded byBob Leslie
Personal details
Morris Sheppard Arnold

(1941-10-08) October 8, 1941 (age 77)
Texarkana, Texas
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of Arkansas (B.S.E.E.)
University of Arkansas School of Law (LL.B.)
Harvard Law School (LL.M., S.J.D.)

Morris Sheppard Arnold (born October 8, 1941), sometimes known as Buzz Arnold,[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 12 years, until 2004, he served on the court alongside his older brother, Richard S. Arnold, a Democrat appointed by President Jimmy Carter. He served as judge on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review from 2008 to 2013.[2]

Early years and education[edit]

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 (Class of 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, receiving a Bachelor of Laws in 1968. He received a Master of Laws (LL.M.), and a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree 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.[3]

Law professor[edit]

Arnold practiced law briefly in Texarkana, Arkansas, in 1968 but 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 Professor 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 to 1977. He was then the university vice president and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1977 to 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[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] Arnold himself openly considered a bid for the United States Senate in 1986 against Democratic incumbent Dale Bumpers, but opted out when he was nominated to the federal bench. U.S. Attorney and future Governor Asa Hutchinson carried the party banner in that race.

Colonial Arkansas history scholar[edit]

Arnold is also known for his scholarship on colonial Arkansas history.[7] In 1985, Arnold first published Unequal Laws unto a Savage Race: European Legal Traditions in Arkansas, 1686-1836.[8] He first published Colonial Arkansas, 1686–1804: A Social and Cultural History[9] in 1991. In 2000, Arnold first published The Rumble of a Distant Drum: Quapaws and Old World Newcomers, 1673–1804,[10] which won the Booker Worthen Literary Prize and the S. G. Ragsdale Award for Arkansas History.[11]

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.[12]

Reagan-Bush appointee[edit]

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, 1985 and he received his commission on December 17, 1985. His service terminated on June 1, 1992, when he was elevated to the Eighth Circuit.[3]

Arnold serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which is based in St. Louis, Missouri. However, because the court works in three-judge panels, Arnold primarily operates from Little Rock. President George H. W. Bush had nominated Arnold on November 6, 1991 to a seat vacated by Judge Donald P. Lay. He was confirmed by the Senate on May 21, 1992 and received his commission on May 26, 1992. On October 9, 2006, Arnold assumed senior status, meaning his workload was reduced with greater opportunity to concentrate in detail on fewer cases.[3]

Three major Arnold cases[edit]

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.[13]

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.[14]

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[edit]

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, U.S. Representative Tim Griffin of Arkansas' 2nd congressional district introduced H.R. 388, which would rename the United States Bankruptcy Courthouse in Little Rock the Morris Sheppard Arnold United States Courthouse.[15]


  1. ^ "Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (1941–) - Encyclopedia of Arkansas".
  2. ^ Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court 2014 Membership
  3. ^ a b c "Arnold, Morris Sheppard - Federal Judicial Center".
  4. ^ "Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (1941- )". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  5. ^ "AR - Arkansas Republican Party & State Leadership Leadership - GOP". GOP.
  6. ^ Arkansas Gazette, November 14, 1982, December 5, 1982; Arkansas Democrat, December 5, 1982
  7. ^ RGK (21 May 2013). "Judge "Buzz" Arnold, polymath, legal historian and former federal district judge".
  8. ^ Arnold, Morris (June 1, 1985). Unequal laws unto a savage race: European legal traditions in Arkansas, 1686-1836. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 0938626760.
  9. ^ Arnold, Morris (1991). Colonial Arkansas, 1686-1804: A Social and Cultural History. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1557283176.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "THE RUMBLE OF A DISTANT DRUM: The Quapaws and Old World Newcomers, 1673–1804". University of Arkansas Press. Archived from the original on 2011-10-03. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  12. ^ "The Honorable Morris Sheppard Arnold" (PDF).
  13. ^ Henderson v. Norris. 258 F.3d 706 (2001).
  14. ^ Russell v. Burris. 146 F.3d 563 (1998).
  15. ^ H.R.388 - 113th Congress (2013-2014): To designate the United States courthouse located at 300 West Second Street in Little Rock, Arkansas, as the "Morris Sheppard Arnold Unit...

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Cohee
Chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Bob Leslie
Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 98 Stat. 333
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Harry F. Barnes
Preceded by
Donald P. Lay
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Succeeded by
Bobby Shepherd
Preceded by
Bruce M. Selya
Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
Succeeded by
José A. Cabranes
Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
Succeeded by
William Curtis Bryson