Laws and Court Cases

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Thurairajah v. City of Fort Smith

In Thurairajah v. City of Fort Smith, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit found that police lacked probable cause to arrest Eric Roshaun Thurairajah for disorderly conduct after he drove by a traffic stop and yelled, “F**k you!” to an officer on the side of the road, because the shout constituted protected political speech. Thurairajah was one of a line of cases in federal and state appellate courts in Arkansas and elsewhere in which the judiciary used a minor incident, such as uttering offensive words or brushing the American flag during a protest, to hold that an arrest merely for offensive conduct violated a person’s First Amendment rights. In 2015, Arkansas State Trooper Lagarian Cross was performing …

Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000

After the establishment of the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between several major U.S. tobacco companies and four state governments (Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and Mississippi), the remaining forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories not party to the original legal action were allowed to join into benefits conferred by the agreement. The tobacco companies were mandated to pay damages approaching the sum of $10 billion over an indefinite time period to the states joining the agreement, as well as acknowledge publicly that tobacco companies targeted youth in marketing and sales of products. In addition, the companies were subjected to sponsorship, marketing, and sales restrictions on their product. The State of Arkansas, agreeing not to file further litigation …

Turner v. Arkansas (1991)

Turner v. Arkansas, 784 F. Supp. 585 (E.D. Ark. 1991), a 1991 decision by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Arkansas, was the culmination of a battle over the drawing of congressional districts within the state, one that reflected the growing challenges states faced in the reapportionment process required after each decennial census. The dispute stemmed from challenges to the redistricting effort that had been undertaken by the Arkansas General Assembly in Act 1220 of 1991. The plaintiffs Jessie Turner, Christine Brownlee, Jack Foster, Alan Smith, and Freddie Lyon argued that the plan violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as the federal Voting Rights Act—and most importantly ran afoul …