Lawsuit filed against Mississippi eminent domain initiative

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June 6, 2011

Mississippi

JACKSON, Mississippi: In what is the third piece of litigation filed against a 2011 Mississippi ballot measure, it was reported on June 5, 2011 that a lawsuit was filed in Hinds County Circuit Court challenging the proposed citizen-initiated eminent domain amendment. The lawsuit was filed against the Mississippi Secretary of State's office by Leland Speed, a Mississippi businessman who is the leader of the Mississippi Development Authority. However, Speed stated that he filed the lawsuit as a private citizen.

The measure proposes prohibiting state and local government from taking private property by eminent domain and then conveying it to other persons/businesses for a period of 10 years. However, the measure allows for an exemption for levee facilities, roads, bridges, ports, airports, common carriers, drainage facilities and utilities. According to reports, the proposed amendment would not apply to public nuisances, structures unfit for human habitation or abandoned property.

According to Speed: “This initiative will hurt opportunities for thousands of Mississippians for better jobs and for better lives."[1]

Specifically, the lawsuit challenges that the measure is unconstitutional, as Speed argues that it attempts to amend the state's Bill of Rights, which he says cannot be changed by initiative. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 25, 2011.[2]

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