Cover Story

Suffering Wrongs Without Remedies

Damages and the Tennessee Constitution

“… every man, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation,
shall have remedy by due course of law ...”
 — Article I, Section 17 of the Tennessee Constitution

“Historically, damages have been regarded as the ordinary remedy for an
invasion of personal interest in liberty.”   
— Justice William Brennan[1]


More than 40 years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan issued a clarion call about the importance of individual rights under state constitutions. Upset at the erosion of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, Brennan wrote that state constitutions were “font[s] of individual liberty” that often provide greater protection than the Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal law.[2] 

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Online Sales Tax

What ‘South Dakota v. Wayfair’ Means for Tennessee

In a 5–4 decision on June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld South Dakota’s online sales tax collection statute and ruled that the “physical presence” test, under the court’s 1992 case Quill Corp. v. North Dakota,[1] no longer limits a state’s ability to collect sales tax on purchases by in-state customers. In order for a state to impose a duty on sellers to collect online sales tax, the seller must have a substantial nexus with the taxing state. “Such a nexus is established when the taxpayer or collector avails itself of the substantial privilege of carrying on business in that jurisdiction.”[2] Before Wayfair, a business had to have a physical presence in a state to satisfy this substantial nexus requirement. However, writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Alito, Ginsburg, Thomas and Gorsuch, found the “physical presence rule” is not a “necessary interpretation” of the substantial nexus requirement. In the majority’s view, earlier decisions like Quill “serve[d] as a judicially created tax shelter for businesses that decide to limit their physical presence and still sell their goods and services to a State’s consumers.”

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Don’t Make Her Choose

Why Parents Should Never Ask Children What Visitation They Want

In a divorce or separation, parents should never ask their children what visitation they want. The scheduling of parenting time in the parenting plan is for adults to work through, not children. Here’s why.

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Ida B. Wells

Fearless Journalist from Memphis Who Changed the World

Unlike today, there was a time when journalists were admired for their fearless pursuit of the truth.

Today’s climate features hostility toward freedom of the press and negative attitudes toward journalists. Public perception of the press as the public’s watchdog and the protective fourth estate is vanishing. Reporters have even faced assault for their reporting in the United States.[1]

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A Long Journey to Justice

The Story of the ‘Geier’ Case and the Desegregation of Tennessee Higher Education

Shortly after receiving my commission as a United States District judge in August 1978, I inherited from Judge Frank Gray Jr. the 10-year-old Geier lawsuit challenging whether Tennessee had fully removed the vestiges of segregation from its public system of higher education. The case was among the most difficult and contentious of my 28-year judicial career and would consume much of my time before finally ending on Sept. 21, 2006. In this article, Carlos González tells the history of this groundbreaking lawsuit in a way that only one intimately familiar with it can.

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The ‘Geier’ Timeline

The ‘Geier’ Case and the Desegregation of Tennessee Higher Education

During the 1960s on college campuses across the country and in Tennessee, African-Americans were demanding social justice and advocating for civil rights on the streets and in the courts. History is changed by persons willing to challenge injustice. In this instance, the challenge was brought by a young woman and her lawyer intent on securing educational opportunity for African-Americans in Tennessee’s public colleges and universities.

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You’ve Been Hacked

Tennessee Law Updates Your Obligations After a Data Breach

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the protagonist Bilbo Baggins pens a memoir recounting harrowing adventures with a team of unlikely allies. His journey culminates in the improbable defeat of the mighty dragon Smaug and the return to the comforts of his beloved home. More recently, the Tennessee General Assembly has undertaken to combat the dangers of cybercrime, traversing through a meandering array of amendments that could aptly share the title of Mr. Baggins’s memoir, There and Back Again.

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The Fake Law School

How Today’s Written Tennessee Bar Exam Grew from Scandal and Disarray

J. William Farr was a crook. Make no mistake about that. He was also a lawyer, or said he was. Farr started a law school in Nashville in 1899 and sold degrees through the mail. This is the story of Farr’s Nashville School of Law (sometimes National School of Law) and how the antics of a champion huckster and fraudster prompted the state to establish the written bar exam. Sometimes it takes a scandal to bring about reform.

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Changes in Divorce Law

Recent Federal Actions Impact Military Service Members

Federal law may not be the first place family practice attorneys think to look for changes that impact their state practice but if your client is a member of the U.S. military or the spouse of a military member, then you need to know about two recent developments.

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Perfect Fit

New TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson Brings Experience, Diversity, and a Love for Bar Associations

If Joycelyn Stevenson had written the job description herself, her new position as executive director of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) could not be a better match.

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