Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (1941–)

Morris Sheppard “Buzz” Arnold is a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The U.S. Eighth Circuit comprises seven states: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. From 1992 to 2004, Arnold and his older brother, Richard Sheppard Arnold, had the distinction of being the only brothers in U.S. history to serve simultaneously on the same federal court of appeals.

Morris Arnold, known informally as Buzz, was born on October 8, 1941, in Texarkana, Texas, to Richard Lewis Arnold and Janet Sheppard Arnold. His father was a lawyer, as was his grandfather, William Hendrick Arnold, who founded the Arnold and Arnold law firm in 1883 in Texarkana (Miller County). Arnold received a classical education from Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and graduated in 1959. From 1959 to 1961, Arnold attended Yale University. He received a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1965 and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the UA School of Law in 1968, where he graduated first in his class and served as editor-in-chief of the Arkansas Law Review. He received a Master of Laws (LLM) in 1969, followed by a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) in 1971, both from Harvard Law School. In addition, Arnold studied at the University of London Institute for Historical Research from 1970 to 1971 as a Knox Fellow from Harvard University.

A legal scholar, Arnold has authored several books and many articles on law and English legal history. Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Arnold taught law at several institutions, including Harvard Law School, where he served as a teaching fellow in law; Indiana University School of Law, where he served as professor of law and later dean of the law school; University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as professor of law and history and was an associate dean of the law school and a vice president of the university; and what is now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) William H. Bowen School of Law, where he was the Ben J. Altheimer Distinguished Professor of Law. He also served as a visiting professor of law at Stanford Law School, University of Texas, University of Michigan, and Cambridge University.

On October 23, 1985, President Ronald Reagan nominated Arnold as U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. Arnold served in that capacity until he received a commission to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1992. He was nominated by President George H. W. Bush on November 6, 1991. In addition to his duties on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Arnold sits on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. He was appointed to this special court in 2008 by Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court. Arnold serves as the presiding judge of that court.

Arnold was general counsel to the Arkansas Republican Party in 1981 and served as chairman from 1982 to 1983. He was also a member of the Republican National Committee from 1982 to 1983. Arnold was recommended to President Reagan in 1985 and to President Bush in 1991 by Arkansas congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt for appointment to his judgeships.

An important and well-publicized case involving the Little Rock School District and a student’s right to privacy was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 2004. In Doe ex rel. Doe v. Little Rock School District, Arnold wrote for the majority and reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed Little Rock School District officials to conduct random searches of students’ belongings. Another of Arnold’s high-profile cases was an action brought against fringe evangelist Tony Alamo for abusing children and adults who were members of his church. In 1990, Arnold entered a judgment against Alamo that resulted in the sale of his property and compound. Alamo was later indicted for threatening to kill Arnold, but a Fort Smith (Sebastian County) jury acquitted him.

Arnold has authored several books on colonial Arkansas, including Unequal Laws Unto a Savage Race (University of Arkansas Press, 1985), Arkansas Colonials, 1686–1804 (Grand Prairie Historical Society, 1986), Colonial Arkansas, 1686–1804: A Social and Cultural History (University of Arkansas Press, 1991), The Rumble of a Distant Drum: Quapaws and Old World Newcomers, 1673–1804 (University of Arkansas Press, 2000), and The Arkansas Post of Louisiana (University of Arkansas Press, 2017).

Arnold has been the recipient of many academic honors, including multiple Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD and JD) from the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Connecticut, UALR, UA, and others. For his work in research and writing about colonial Louisiana, Arnold has received the Ragsdale History Prize, the Booker Worthen Literary Prize, Porter Literary Prize, and the Arkansiana Award, as well as the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the French government.

Arnold married Gail Kwaak Fellinger on October 16, 1992.

Arnold’s chambers are in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His personal archive of family history, legal decisions, legal publications, manuscripts, and speeches is held at the archives of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County).

For additional information:
“Circuit Judges, Arnold Make History.” Eighth Circuit News 11, no. 2 (Spring 1993).

Kilby, Brenda. “The Honorable Morris S. Arnold, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (UA Law ’68), Honored with Alumni Citation of Merit Award.” Arkansas Law Record: The Alumni Magazine of the University of Arkansas School of Law (Spring 1999).

Morris Sheppard Arnold Collection. University of Central Arkansas Archives and Special Collections, Conway, Arkansas.

Jimmy Bryant
University of Central Arkansas


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