NFIB chapter files eminent domain brief with Supreme Court

JACKSON — The state office of the National Federation of Independent Business says the state Supreme Court has accepted its “friend-of-the-court” brief opposing an attempt by the head of the Mississippi Development Authority, in his individual capacity, to derail a vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment on eminent domain reform.

Hinds Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd recently dismissed Leland Speed’s lawsuit seeking to prevent the amendment from appearing on the November ballot. Speed has appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

In its brief, NFIB/Mississippi notes that nearly 120,000 citizens signed a petition to put Initiative 31 on the ballot. The initiative regulates the disposition or transfer of property acquired by eminent domain.

NFIB is the nation’s and the state’s leading small-business association, with 3,500 members statewide.

Speed’s lawsuit claims the initiative would violate the state Constitution, but NFIB says that simply isn’t true.

In its brief, NFIB/Mississippi points out that the proposed amendment “does not affect the exclusive authority of the courts to determine what is or is not a public use. It does not prevent any use of eminent domain from occurring, including eminent domain for economic development. Instead, it prohibits certain transfers of property after the property has been acquired by eminent domain.”

“We believe the Hinds Circuit Court was correct to dismiss Mr. Speed’s lawsuit, and we’re hopeful the Supreme Court will agree and allow the people of Mississippi to decide for themselves whether to make it harder for state and local government to take someone’s property so someone else could use it,” said Ron Aldridge, state director of NFIB/Mississippi.

“It’s one thing for government to take private property for longstanding and well-agreed public uses, but it’s just plain wrong for the government to take someone’s home, business or farm so someone else can develop the land or secure a better location.”

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