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Establishing Justice in Middle America

Establishing Justice in Middle America: A History of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Establishing Justice in Middle America
    Book Description:

    Headquartered in St. Louis and serving primarily Midwestern states, the Eighth Circuit Court has ruled on cases that touch some of the most significant issues in American history, including Native American rights, school segregation, and abortion. Jeffrey Brandon Morris covers this court's history, revealing how, in many ways, the history of a regional court is a history of the nation itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5416-1
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    William H. Webster

    Much has been written about the history and workings of the U.S. Supreme Court and the justices who have served there. It may come as a surprise to some that in the exercise of its certiorari powers, the Supreme Court annually hears less than 2 percent of the appeals from the cases decided in the circuit courts of this country. Thus, in a real sense, these thirteen circuits are the courts of last resort for some 98 percent of the cases in the federal system.

    Yet, outside the legal profession, relatively little is known of our circuit courts, how they...

    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xx)
    Thomas H. Boyd
  6. INTRODUCTION Middle America during the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 1-14)

    The land that would become the Eighth Circuit was barely settled by Europeans when the U.S. Constitution was adopted. Not for a century would all the states that today constitute the Eighth Circuit be sufficiently settled to be admitted to the American Union.

    Common elements unite large parts of the Eighth Circuit and distinguish it from other parts of the United States. Two great rivers flow through or by each of the states, shaping their land and determining the course of exploration and settlement, as well as economic growth. A great inland water system linking a third of the North...

  7. CHAPTER 1 “An Empire in Itself”: The Eighth Circuit before 1891
    (pp. 15-52)

    The first Eighth Circuit state to be admitted to the federal judicial system, Missouri, was made a judicial district in 1822 with a district judge who exercised circuit court jurisdiction. The state would not become a full-fledged part of the lower federal court system until 1837. The first circuit resembling the modern Eighth Circuit, numbered the Ninth, was created in 1862 and included Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas. By 1867 there was an Eighth Circuit, which included those four states plus Nebraska. Colorado would be added in 1876, the Dakotas and Wyoming in 1889–90.

    Between 1862 and 1890, the...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Early Years 1891–1929
    (pp. 53-96)

    Reaching from New Mexico’s mountainous Hidalgo County backing into Mexico, to Angle Inlet beside Lake of the Woods jutting into Canada, in the early years of the twentieth century the Eighth Circuit sprawled across the central United States. Farthest east was Dorena, Missouri, almost touching Kentucky. Out west the jurisdiction went as far as Wendover, perched on Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert.

    This circuit of great size was a by-product of admission to statehood of six states between 1889 and 1912: North and South Dakota (1889), Wyoming (1890), Utah (1896), Oklahoma (1907), and New Mexico (1912). At the time, although...

  9. CHAPTER 3 The Sanborn Court 1929–1959
    (pp. 97-140)

    During the three decades that followed the division of the Eighth Circuit, the United States was transformed from a laissez-faire, isolationist, and relatively weak federal government into a centralized welfare state and superpower.¹ The work of the federal government expanded as the nation passed through the Great Depression and the early years of the Cold War, accompanied by a growth of the jurisdiction of the federal courts. During this period, the lower federal courts increasingly applied centralizing policies generated by laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court. The courts of appeals in particular contributed to the growing...

  10. CHAPTER 4 The Era of the Warren Court 1956–1969
    (pp. 141-188)

    During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the most notable work of the Eighth Circuit occurred in litigation involving civil liberties, in which granting relief often required the strong assertion of judicial power. The Court of Appeals decided landmark cases involving African American children in Little Rock, secondary-school students in Des Moines wearing armbands to protest the Vietnam War, a popular college athlete who inexplicably killed three in a Nebraska bank robbery, a hoodlum crossing the Eads Bridge daily from East St. Louis to St Louis, and a young black couple in St. Louis attempting to buy a house....

  11. CHAPTER 5 The Moderately Liberal Court of the 1970s
    (pp. 189-238)

    Confronting a docket shaped in many ways by the activism of the Warren and Burger courts as well as recent legislation, during the 1970s the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled on claims of individual liberty in a remarkable variety of situations. Coming before the court were black children from St. Louis seeking to be educated at desegregated schools, a Nebraska tribe of Native Americans and Iowa farmers each seeking clear title to land created by changes in the course of the Missouri River, thousands of employees of a Minnesota plant that had been dumping possibly deadly...

  12. CHAPTER 6 “Debate, Differences, and a Robust Exchange of Ideas”: The Eighth Circuit during the 1980s
    (pp. 239-286)

    The most significant characteristic of the work of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit during the 1980s was the strong intellectual differences among its judges, evidenced by the number of en banc proceedings overturning decisions made by panels, as well as by the number of dissents from the denial of en banc review. This occurred for several reasons. The docket of the Eighth Circuit continued to include large numbers of value-laden cases in areas such as abortion, school desegregation, the First Amendment (including, for the first time, a considerable number of church-state questions), criminal procedure, and matters...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Leaving the Old Century and Entering the New
    (pp. 287-342)

    In the final years of the twentieth century, the work of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit attracted more attention than ever before. The Eighth Circuit continued to be an important forum in which state attempts to restrict abortion were contested as well as the First Amendment rights of those protesting abortion. Last-minute attempts to prevent executions in Missouri, Arkansas, and Nebraska also placed the court in the spotlight, as did the decades-old school desegregation cases in Kansas City and St. Louis sputtering to a close. Efforts seeking the freedom of, or a new trial for, Leonard...

    (pp. 343-344)

    Four additional judges have been appointed to the Eighth Circuit by President George W. Bush. The contributions and impact that these individuals will make in the years to come I will leave for another author to describe in a future study.

    The Honorable Steven M. Colloton received his commission on September 10, 2003. Judge Colloton is a native Iowan who attended Princeton University and subsequently received his law degree from Yale Law School. Judge Colloton served as law clerk for the Honorable Laurence H. Silberman of the D.C. Circuit, and then for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the United...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 345-414)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 415-442)
  17. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 443-451)