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Eminent Domain Court Case Could Take Initiative Off November Ballot

By Rhonda Miller | Published 25 Jul 2011 01:50pm | comments
Voter information on eminent domain is published by the Mississippi Secretary of State.

A judge hears a lawsuit today filed to stop a vote on an eminent domain constitutional amendment.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the case will heard in Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson.  

Jackson businessman Leland Speed’s lawsuit against the Secretary of State is to keep the issue of eminent domain off the November ballot. Speed is also Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority, but filed the lawsuit as a private citizen.  Attorney Luther Munford, who represents Speed, said his client believes eminent domain can encourage economic development. 

"Because he has seen as a public official the importance of being able to use eminent domain in situations where there’s a project that would render a great benefit to the community," Munford said.

The Mississippi Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business filed a statement asking the court to keep eminent domain on the ballot. Ron Aldridge is Director of the organization.

"We’re not against eminent domain for traditional public uses. What we are against is being able to take one person’s private property for another private individual’s use or ownership," Aldridge said.

The business group filed its statement in collaboration with the Southern Christian Leadership conference, which said eminent domain cases historically have a negative impact on low-income and minority communities.

In addition to eminent domain, personhood and voter identification are initiatives on the November ballot.

Billy Ray Broadus was at a recent public meeting in Gulfport to review the proposed amendments.

"After that many people signed a petition to put all three of these things on the ballot, it’s not right in this country for somebody to walk in and sue them and take it off the ballot. That’s not right," Broadus said.

The only issue being challenged in court today is eminent domain.



Voter information on eminent domain is published by the Mississippi Secretary of State.



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