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U.S. Appeals Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold Visits Liberty, Speaks at Law School

April 01, 2014

Recently, Liberty University School of Law was honored with a visit from the Honorable Morris Sheppard Arnold, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. During his storied career, Judge Arnold has excelled academically, practiced law, participated in politics, taught law at numerous law schools, and served as a federal trial and appellate judge. Even though Judge Arnold’s Liberty-packed visit was only two days, it was enough to make a lasting impression. Judge Arnold raved, “I have never been as warmly received as I was at Liberty. It was an enormous pleasure to meet students who are so intelligent and engaged. I profited greatly and learned much from the comments I received from faculty and students alike. Liberty University School of Law has an exceedingly bright future; I shall greatly enjoy watching it grow and prosper.”

Judge Arnold and Professor Tory L. Lucas have enjoyed a longstanding friendship since Professor Lucas clerked for Judge Arnold’s colleagues on the Eighth Circuit, Chief Judge William Jay Riley (who Professor Lucas hosted at Liberty last year) and Judge Pasco M. Bowman II. Shortly after Professor Lucas joined the School of Law faculty in 2011, he and Judge Arnold began working to find the best opportunity for Judge Arnold to experience Liberty and vice-versa. In the fall of 2012, Judge Arnold sent a copy of a speech that he had been drafting on law and religion to Professor Lucas, suggesting that a Federalist Society event might be the perfect conduit to visit Liberty. That idea was the key that eventually unlocked Judge Arnold’s visit.

Judge Arnold’s visit kicked off shortly after his plane landed when Professor Lucas, who serves as the Faculty Advisor to both the Liberty University Law Review and the Federalist Society, hosted a dinner in his home with students and faculty. Adam T. Walton, a third-year law student who attended the dinner, said, “It was a delight to spend an evening being regaled by the tremendous depth of Judge Arnold’s knowledge, experience, and expertise. Not only is he brilliant, he is also a sincere man with a genuine interest to benefit a rising generation of lawyers.” After an evening of good food, big laughs, and great stories, Judge Arnold retired to Liberty’s dry campus and the Carter Glass Mansion, the previous home of United States Senator Carter Glass. Notably, Senator Glass served with Judge Arnold’s grandfather, Senator John Morris Sheppard, who wrote the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The following day started with a tour of Liberty’s expanding campus, which amazed and inspired Judge Arnold. After the tour, Professor Lucas introduced Judge Arnold to many of the members of the School of Law faculty. Next, Judge Arnold taught a special session of Professor Lucas’s Federal Jurisdiction class, which included law students, School of Law faculty, and Helms School of Government faculty. Designated by Chief Justice John G. Roberts in 2008 to serve on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court of Review, Judge Arnold expertly discussed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Court of Review. Judge Arnold then graciously met with members of the Liberty University Law Review, offering students a unique opportunity to learn from a federal judge and law professor who as a student himself served as editor-in-chief of the Arkansas Law Review.

The stage was then set for the highlight of Judge Arnold’s visit, the Federalist Society event with nearly 150 attendees. With the stunning backdrop of Liberty University School of Law’s Supreme Courtroom, Judge Arnold delivered a thought-provoking speech regarding religion’s influence on law. The next edition of the Liberty Legal Journal will feature an article discussing Judge Arnold’s speech at the Federalist Society event. Professor Jeffrey C. Tuomala, who gave a response to Judge Arnold’s speech, said, “It was a treat to listen to Judge Arnold’s presentation with references to philosophy, history, theology, science, and Southern culture. I was reminded of Neil Postman’s remark ‘that to read law exclusively will damage the mind, shackle it to the technicalities with which it has become so familiar, and disable it from taking enlarged and comprehensive views even of topics falling within its compass.’”

Impressed by the Federalist Society event, Professor Lucas responded, “Liberty University School of Law is blessed with outstanding student organizations that produce outstanding events that inspire and educate students, introduce speakers to Liberty, and build the brand and extend the reach of this law school. The Federalist Society event was a home run. I am inspired by the dedication that Josh Turner, William Varnell, Lindsay Utsman, Luke Martin, and Caleb Byrd display as leaders of the Federalist Society.”

Judge Arnold left a wealth of knowledge, insight, and personality behind. Faculty members and students alike were blessed by the unique opportunity to spend time with a national treasure. Josh Turner, president of the Federalist Society, said, “Spending time with Judge Arnold was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was an absolute honor to learn from a preeminent attorney, scholar, and judge. Judge Arnold’s visit was hugely impactful. Speaking on the Federalist Society’s behalf, I believe that Judge Arnold’s visit will go down in the annals as one of the best visits to the School of Law.”

“From the moment that I met Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold a dozen years ago and throughout our friendship since, I have always been drawn to his wit and wisdom,” said Professor Lucas.

“It was an honor to host Judge Arnold at Liberty University School of Law and to see that members of this community were also drawn to that same wit and wisdom that are trademarks of Judge Arnold. I am proud that Judge Arnold is now a friend of Liberty, no pun intended.”

Professor Lucas concluded, “I cannot be more proud of the way that everyone at Liberty University School of Law responded to Judge Arnold’s visit. It might not be too far-fetched to say that Judge Arnold and Liberty University School of Law are a match made in Heaven.”