Entry Category: Law

Aaron v. Cooper

aka: Cooper v. Aaron
Aaron v. Cooper, reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court as Cooper v. Aaron, was the “other shoe dropping” after Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas declared school segregation unconstitutional but did not lay out any clear guidelines for how to proceed with desegregation. The Supreme Court’s opinion in Cooper v. Aaron sent a message to segregated school districts nationwide that the Supreme Court would not tolerate attempts to evade or obstruct integration. The intervention of the executive branch in sending federal troops to Little Rock (Pulaski County) underscored the supremacy of the federal Constitution over state law and, arguably, added to the Court’s power and prestige. For …

Act 10 of 1958 [Affidavit Law]

A special session of the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 10 in 1958 as one of sixteen bills designed to bypass federal desegregation orders stemming from the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. The measure required state employees to list their political affiliations from the previous five years. Ostensibly, the act would root out subversives and other enemies of the state, but the underlying purpose was to expose National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) members on state payrolls so that they could be fired under Act 115, a law that forbade public employment of NAACP members. Pulaski County senator Artie Gregory designed the measure to root out subversives in the state’s educational institutions, but Governor Orval …

Act 112 of 1909

aka: Anti-Nightriding Law
aka: Anti-Whitecapping Law
Act 112 of 1909 was a law designed to curb the practice of nightriding or whitecapping, terms that encompass a range of vigilante practices typically carried out for 1) the intimidation of agricultural or industrial workers, typically by poor whites against African Americans, with the hope of driving them from their place of employment and thus positioning themselves to take over those jobs, or 2) the intimidation of farmers or landowners with the aim of preventing them from selling their crops at a time when the price for such was particularly low, done with the hope of raising the price for these goods. As such acts of vigilantism began to threaten the profits of landowners and industrialists, nightriding was prosecuted …

Act 115 of 1959 [Anti-NAACP Law]

In 1959, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 115 as one of sixteen bills designed to bypass federal desegregation orders stemming from the desegregation of Central High School. Act 115 outlawed state employment of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) members. Coupled with Act 10, a law designed to expose NAACP members on state payrolls by requiring state employees to list their political affiliations, Act 115 effectively punished the leaders of the desegregation effort in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Arkansas attorney general Bruce Bennett proposed the bill as part of a package of legislation that would “throw consternation into the ranks” of the NAACP, a group Bennett considered to be subversive. He hoped this package would keep …

Act 1220 of 2003

aka: Childhood Obesity Act
Act 1220 of 2003, which launched comprehensive efforts to curb childhood obesity in Arkansas, established one of the nation’s first statewide, school-focused initiatives to help children reach and maintain a healthy weight. Shaped largely by key legislators, including Senator Hershel Cleveland, with input from state and national public health experts, the act passed through the Arkansas General Assembly with strong support from the House and Senate under the administration of Governor Mike Huckabee. After passage, however, several components of the act faced vocal opposition. Opponents feared the largely unfunded mandates would strain educational and healthcare systems in addition to shaming overweight students. This vocal opposition prompted changes to the act in the years following its passage. Subsequent evaluation of Act …

Act 151 of 1859

aka: Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattos from the State
aka: Arkansas's Free Negro Expulsion Act of 1859
The Arkansas General Assembly passed a bill in February 1859 that banned the residency of free African-American or mixed-race (“mulatto”) people anywhere within the bounds of the state of Arkansas. In 1846, the Statutes of Arkansas had legally defined mulatto as anyone who had one grandparent who was Negro. Free Negroes were categorized as “black” in the 1850 U.S. Census, so historians have adopted the term “free black” to refer to Negroes or mulattoes who were not enslaved. On February 12, 1859, Governor Elias N. Conway, who had supported removal, signed the bill into law, which required such free black people to leave the state by January 1, 1860, or face sale into slavery for a period of one year. …

Act 250 of 2021

aka: Stand-Your-Ground Law
On March 3, 2021, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law Act 250, a so-called “stand-your-ground” bill. This bill eliminated the “duty to retreat” prior to the use of physical force, even lethal force, in an act of alleged self-defense. Such laws, often called “shoot first” laws by their critics, have been highly controversial, being linked in some studies to increased murder rates in those states that passed them.  Modern “stand-your-ground” legislation has its genesis in 2005 in the state of Florida and swiftly spread to some twenty-five other states by 2020, supported by the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council. Each of Arkansas’s neighboring states passed such legislation years before Arkansas did. A review of gun death statistics by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2021 found that, in all but one of Arkansas’s …

Act 258 of 1909

aka: Toney Bill to Prevent Lynching
Act 258 of 1909 was a law intended to prevent citizens from engaging in lynching. It was not, strictly speaking, a piece of anti-lynching legislation, as it imposed no punishment for the crime of lynching. Instead, it aimed to expedite trials relating to particular crimes in order to render what would likely be a death penalty verdict to mollify the local population enough that they would not take the law into their own hands. Such a law as Act 258 is indicative of the connection between lynching and the modern death penalty observed by some scholars; as Michael J. Pfeifer noted in his 2011 book, The Roots of Rough Justice: Origins of American Lynching, legislators across the nation “reshaped the …

Act 38 of 1971

Act 38 of 1971, which reorganized sixty state government agencies into thirteen cabinet-level departments, was the culmination of reform efforts that had begun during the administration of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller but were only achieved under Governor Dale Bumpers, who was widely credited with the successful passage of the measure. Bumpers described the act, which was designed to increase the economy and efficiency of state government, as the most vital part of his legislative program. As the first general reorganization of state government in the twentieth century, Act 38 was hailed for simplifying state operations and curbing graft. Prior to Act 38, the governor had little authority to dismiss uncooperative or corrupt agency heads, who served at the pleasure of their …

Act 401 of 1951

aka: Communist Registration Act
Also called the Communist Registration Act, Act 401 was approved in March 1951 during the tenure of the Fifty-eighth Arkansas General Assembly. It was subtitled “An Act to Require Members of Certain Organizations Advocating the Unconstitutional Overthrow of the United States or of the State of Arkansas to Register With the State Police.” Ostensibly directed against members of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and affiliated organizations, Act 401 was passed in the context of the Second Red Scare following World War II. Act 401 did not emerge in a political vacuum, nor was this law unprecedented in Arkansas history. Act 401 was consistent with federal, state, and local legislation against “subversive organizations.” The law joined a long line of federal …

Act 626 of 2021

aka: Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act
aka: HB 1570
Act 626 of 2021 was the first ever bill passed in the United States to outlaw any gender-affirming medical treatment for persons under eighteen years of age. It became law over the veto of Governor Asa Hutchinson on April 6, 2021, attracting national and international criticism of the Arkansas legislature. Groundbreaking though the bill was, it was but one of many passed during the 2021 Arkansas General Assembly that specifically targeted trans citizens, and Arkansas was one of more than thirty states in 2021 in which Republican Party legislators introduced such bills. House Bill 1570, dubbed the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act,” was written by Representative Robin Lundstrum of Elm Springs (Washington and Benton counties) and introduced into the Arkansas House of Representatives on February 25, 2021. The following reasons …

Act 710 of 2017

aka: Anti-BDS Law
Act 710 of 2017 prohibits the state from contracting with, or investing in, companies that “boycott Israel.” The law was passed at a time when the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) was gaining increasing success internationally, sparking a backlash, especially in the United States, a country with significant military and economic ties to the nation of Israel, as well as a large population of evangelical Christians who believe that American support for Israel is necessary for advancing the Second Coming of Christ. The BDS movement formally originated in 2005 as part of the Palestinian-led resistance to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. The movement was inspired by similar actions taken internationally against the apartheid regime of South Africa and sought to …

Act 76 of 1983

aka: Teacher Testing Law
Act 76 of 1983 was a law passed by the Arkansas General Assembly mandating that practicing teachers had to take a series of tests in order to continue to hold their teaching license. Passed during a special session of the legislature, the law was part of a package of education reforms championed by Governor Bill Clinton. Some teachers’ unions and other teachers’ organizations opposed the implementation of the law, leading to a public debate about the impact of the law. The implementation of the act made Arkansas the first state in the nation to test teachers after their entrance into the education field. The complete title of the act is “An act to require teachers, counsellors, administrators, and certified personnel …

Act 910 of 2019

aka: Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019
Act 910 of 2019 was a piece of signature legislation for Governor Asa Hutchinson, who sought to reduce the size of Arkansas state government and the number of agency heads reporting directly to the governor. In state government, an agency designated as a “department” is typically headed by a secretary who is appointed by the governor as part of the cabinet. Many of the changes brought about by Act 910 involved departments becoming “divisions,” such as the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) becoming the Division of Environmental Quality within the new Department of Energy and Environment. Hutchinson looked to Act 38 of 1971, the last large-scale reorganization of Arkansas state government, which consolidated sixty state government agencies into thirteen. …

Act 911 of 1989

aka: Arkansas Conditional Release Program
Act 911 of 1989 pertains to the evaluation, commitment, and conditional release of individuals acquitted of a crime when found Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Disease or Defect. The evaluation process, completed by a certified forensic psychologist or psychiatrist, assesses the defendant’s fitness to proceed to trial and, if the defendant is found fit to proceed, mental state at the time of the crime. If the defendant is found not fit to proceed, the proceedings against the defendant are suspended, and the court may commit him/her for detention, care, and treatment at the Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) until restoration of fitness to proceed. Once fit to proceed, a re-evaluation includes an assessment of mental state at the time of …

Act 975 of 2015

aka: Religious Freedom Restoration Act
The Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB975 of the 2015 regular legislative session) was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of the Arkansas General Assembly and signed into law as Act 975 by Governor Asa Hutchinson. It closely aligns Arkansas law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993. Under the legislation, any governmental action in Arkansas that is a “substantial burden” to an individual’s free exercise of religion may only stand if it furthers a “compelling governmental interest” in the “least restrictive” manner possible. Like the federal RFRA, the Arkansas RFRA was meant to return to the “balancing test” established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Sherbert v. Verner (1963) but overturned in the 1990 Employment Division v. …

Adkisson, Richard B.

Richard B. Adkisson was a prominent figure in the Arkansas legal community in the latter part of the twentieth century. He worked as both a prosecutor and a judge, and he served as chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court at the end of his career. Richard Blanks Adkisson was born on October 12, 1932, to Sam E. Adkisson and Kathleen Blanks Adkisson of Mount Vernon (Faulkner County). He received his early education in the local public schools of Mount Vernon, Conway (Faulkner County), and Russellville (Pope County) before serving in the U.S. Air Force from January 1951 to July 1954. Following his discharge from the air force, he studied at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), …

Adverse Possession

Cornell Law School defines adverse possession as “a doctrine under which a person in possession of land owned by someone else may acquire valid title to it, so long as certain common law requirements are met, and the adverse possessor is in possession for a sufficient period of time, as defined by a statute of limitations.” Establishing or settling a title to certain real property (generally fixed property like land and buildings) often requires meeting all of certain specific factual requirements. That certainly is the case in Arkansas when the method for settling a title is application of the concept of adverse possession. Adverse possession cases often involve boundary line disputes or encroachments. The list of requirements for establishing title …

Alamo, Tony

aka: Tony Alamo Christian Ministries
Tony Alamo was a well-known evangelist who, after a radical conversion to Christianity, founded what is now called Tony Alamo Christian Ministries with his wife, Susan, later establishing its headquarters in Dyer (Crawford County). Widely regarded as a cult, Tony Alamo Christian Ministries was at the center of a number of lawsuits and government actions, and its leader was jailed on a variety of charges, including income tax evasion, the theft of his late wife’s body, and taking underage girls across state lines for sex. Much of the information on Alamo’s early, pre-conversion life is spurious at best, on account of Alamo’s constant exaggerations of his importance and/or sinfulness. He was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman on September 20, 1934, in …

Albert Krantz v. City of Fort Smith

aka: Krantz v. City of Fort Smith
Albert Krantz v. City of Fort Smith was a 1998 decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the distribution and posting of flyers and leaflets. In a ruling informed by the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of expression, the Court of Appeals deemed unconstitutional town ordinances enacted by Alma (Crawford County), Dyer (Crawford County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and Van Buren (Crawford County) prohibiting the leafletting of vehicles parked in public spaces. The case originated with the arrests of Albert Krantz and other members of the Twentieth Century Holiness Tabernacle Church after they left religious leaflets under the windshield wipers of vehicles parked in public parking areas in Alma, Dyer, Fort Smith, and Van Buren in the early …

Alderson, Edwin Boyd Jr.

Edwin Alderson Jr. became a prominent lawyer, jurist, and businessman in Arkansas in the late twentieth century. A lifelong booster of his hometown of El Dorado (Union County), he was also an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Edwin Boyd Alderson Jr. was born on May 16, 1940, to Edwin Boyd Alderson and Jewell Sample Murphy Alderson. The couple’s oldest son, he was a sixth-generation resident of Union County. After graduating from El Dorado High School in 1958, Alderson earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1962. He did postgraduate study in philosophy for a year at the University of Georgia before moving to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where …

Allwhite, Louis (Lynching of)

Louis Allwhite, a white man, was lynched just outside of Newport (Jackson County) on December 31, 1904, for having allegedly participated, with his son, in the rape and murder of two women on Christmas Day. The incident is particularly indicative of the brazenness of lynch mobs and how their violence was abetted by local law enforcement officials, who typically ruled that the victim of a lynching died at the hands of people “unknown” even when the act was carried out in broad daylight. At the time of the murder, Louis Allwhite was forty-three years old and Newton Allwhite nineteen. In the 1900 census, the Allwhite family is recorded as living in Big Bottom Township of neighboring Independence County, the family …

Alph (Lynching of)

A mob of white residents of Benton County lynched Alph, an enslaved African-American man, on August 20, 1849. Alph was accused of murdering his enslaver, James J. Anderson, whose father had homesteaded near what is now the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and who himself owned land in Bentonville (Benton County). In early August 1849, Alph was accused of some improper conduct, prompting Anderson to separate him from his wife by taking him downstate to be sold. According to the Arkansas Gazette, during that trip, after passing through Van Buren (Crawford County) on the way to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Alph killed Anderson on August 4, around noon. Alph subsequently appeared in Fayetteville (Washington County) on Sunday, August 5, around 3:00 …

Altheimer, Benjamin Joseph, Sr.

Benjamin Joseph Altheimer Sr. was a lawyer and philanthropist who was known as a “real trailblazer” in promoting agricultural research and education in Arkansas. He created the Ben J. Altheimer Foundation, which has provided funding for civic, legal, and agricultural endeavors. Ben J. Altheimer was born on September 30, 1877, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the only son of Joseph and Matilda Josephat Altheimer. He had one sister. His parents were German–Jewish immigrants who were members of Pine Bluff’s Congregation Anshe Emeth. Joseph’s brother Louis had brought him to Pine Bluff, where he had established and operated a mercantile store. The two brothers became land developers and, together, founded the town of Altheimer (Jefferson County). Ben Altheimer was educated at …

Amendment 33

Amendment 33 was the first of three constitutional amendments ratified by voters in the decade after the beginning of World War II to try to curb political interference with large government agencies and institutions. It prohibited the governor and the Arkansas General Assembly from diminishing the powers of state agencies and institutions, as well as from interfering with their governing boards by dismissing members before their terms expired or increasing or reducing the membership of the boards. The amendment, ratified in 1942, followed Governor Homer M. Adkins’s purging of the board of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in order to fire the university’s president J. William Fulbright, who was the son of a political foe of …

Amendment 44

aka: Interposition Amendment
On November 6, 1956, Arkansans voted to adopt an amendment to the state constitution that would allow Arkansas law to supersede federal law. The “interposition” amendment, as it was called, was in response to the looming integration of Arkansas schools. Similar amendments were adopted across the South after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Although the idea of interposition gained popularity in 1954, the precedence for the argument can be traced back to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions put forth by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1798 and 1799. James D. “Justice Jim” Johnson, an Arkansas politician from Crossett (Ashley County), first presented the idea of an interposition …

Amendment 59

aka: Taxation Amendment
Amendment 59 was an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, ratified by voters overwhelmingly in 1980, that overhauled the system of valuing and taxing private property. It quickly became known for its bewildering complexity—an Arkansas Supreme Court opinion called it “the Godzilla of constitutional amendments”—and for its damaging effect on the financing of public schools. The amendment and its various interpretations had a major role in the long legislative and judicial battles over school reform and tax reform (as with the court cases Jim DuPree v. Alma School District No. 30 and Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee). The valuing of private property, both real and personal, had long been a divisive issue, owing to the property tax’s role …

Amendments 19 and 20

aka: Futrell Amendments
Amendments 19 and 20 to the Arkansas Constitution, which are commonly referred to as the Futrell Amendments, sharply restricted the ability of the legislature to levy taxes, spend the funds, and incur debt. Ratified in the general election in 1934, the amendments went beyond the laws of any other state in limiting the fiscal powers of the legislature and were supposed to guarantee austere and limited government for posterity. The restrictions on borrowing stated in Amendment 20, which required a statewide popular vote before the state could borrow money for public improvements, were loosened in 1986 by Amendment 65, after the Arkansas Supreme Court handed down a strict interpretation that seemed to outlaw what were known as “revenue bonds,” which the …

Ames, Wyatt (Lynching of)

On October 15 or 16, 1883, an African-American man named Wyatt Ames was shot to death near Lexington (some reports say Livingston) in Phillips County for allegedly killing a young deputy constable named Sanders (sometimes referred to as Saunders or Sander) Blount. Presumably, these events took place near Lexington (later renamed Lexa), which is in Phillips County just south of the boundary with Lee County. Wyatt Ames does not appear in any Phillips County records, but in 1870 a ten-year-old named Sanders Blount was living with his father, Richard Blount, in Planters Township. Richard Blount had been in the county since at least 1860, when he was living in Planters Township and had real estate valued at $8,400 and a …

Anderson, William (Lynching of)

On July 8, 1906, an African American named William Anderson was hanged from a telephone pole just south of Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) for allegedly attacking Emily Crawford, a white woman, a few days earlier. According to the Arkansas Gazette, while there was a large Black population in the area, the “resident negroes…inclined to observe law and order and to give the white people as little trouble as possible.” Anderson, however, who was described as a “strange negro,” had recently arrived in the area; the Arkansas Democrat reported that he had come from Memphis. According to the Gazette, on Saturday, July 7, the seventeen-year-old Anderson attacked Emily Crawford, a “respected widow,” while she was alone at her home near …

Anti-miscegenation Laws

Anti-miscegenation laws were edicts that made it unlawful for African Americans and white people to marry or engage each other in intimate relationships. The measures first appeared in the United States in colonial times and had two functions. First, the laws helped maintain the racial caste system necessary for the expansion of slavery and the idea of white supremacy. If white masters took slave women as lovers and fathered children by them, anti-miscegenation laws ensured that the children remained slaves because the illicit nature of the relationships left biracial children with none of their father’s free status. Second, anti-miscegenation statutes gave white men greater power to control the sexual choices of white women. In the colonial period, white patriarchs used …

Arcene, James

James Arcene, a Cherokee man, was sentenced to death for a crime he committed years before. While aspects of his short life are shrouded in legend, he was known to be sentenced to death after his conviction for a robbery and murder he had committed when he was approximately ten years old, making him, if this story is true, the youngest person on record to have committed a crime for which he later received the death penalty. Arcene’s fellow defendant was William Parchmeal. James Arcene is believed to have been born in 1862. Virtually nothing is known about his youth. The basic facts of the crime as established at the trial and afterward were comparatively straightforward, with it being determined …

Arkadelphia Lynching of 1879

aka: Lynching of Daniels Family
In late January 1879, Ben Daniels and two of his sons—who were accused of robbery, arson, and assault—were lynched in Arkadelphia (Clark County). There is some confusion as to the actual date of the lynching. A January 31 report in the Arkansas Gazette said only that it had happened several days previous. The Cincinnati Daily Star reported that it took place on Sunday night, which would have been January 26. The Cincinnati Enquirer, however, reported that the lynching occurred on Friday, January 24. At the time of the 1870 census (nine years before the incident), thirty-three-year-old Benjamin (Ben) Daniels was living in Manchester Township of Clark County with his wife, Betsy, and eight children. His older sons were Charles (thirteen …