Washington, D.C.-Today, the State of Mississippi announced that Nissan Motor Corp. is redesigning its truck manufacturing facility in Canton, Mississippi so that the Archie family can hold on to their land and homes. The State is also going to withdraw its eminent domain lawsuits against the 24 acres of property and several homes owned by the family.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this announcement,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice in Washington, D.C, a nonprofit, public interest law firm that represented the Archie family. “Eminent domain is gone and these families get to keep the homes and land they know and love so well. It’s a great day for these families and for the Constitution,” he added.
“We’ve been fighting all along for the right to keep our family land and homes,” said Matilda Archie, who along with her husband Lonzo owns one of the homes on the land. “Thank the Lord and all the people who stood with us for so long,” she said.
Her husband, Lonzo, said: “We could not be more happy. My father and the rest of our family can now live out our days on our land.” The Archie property has been in the family since 1941.
“These families are finally being treated as shareholders and not sharecroppers,” said Stephanie Parker-Weaver, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Jackson, Miss., chapter. “It’s a win for all the families involved.”
The Bouldin family, whose three-acre property was also sought, today settled with the State. Unlike the Archies, the Bouldins’ property was located well into the project area and immediately adjacent to a large water tower built by Nissan. The Bouldins are advanced in age and have health problems. Given the location of their property deep within the plant, it was not feasible for them to stay. They received a fair settlement and will move to a location nearby in the community. The settlement was secured by Monroe, La. Attorney James E. Ross, Jr.
In February 2001, the State of Mississippi initiated condemnation proceedings against several property owners in Canton, Mississippi, to clear their land so Nissan could build a truck plant. The Archie family, represented by the Institute for Justice, challenged the proposed takings, arguing that their land would be given to Nissan and used for purely private purposes in violation of the Mississippi Constitution. The case was currently pending before the Mississippi Supreme Court. Last year, the Court stayed all the condemnation proceedings, permitting the property owners to hold on to their land while the case was pending.
The Institute for Justice is currently fighting other battles across the country against the taking of private properties by the governments for the pure economic benefit of private parties. These include cases in metropolitan New York; New London, Connecticut; and Mesa, Arizona. This year the Institute launched the Castle Coalition (www.castlecoalition.org), a nationwide network of community activists and property owners dedicated to stopping eminent domain abuse wherever it occurs. The Coalition spotlighted the Mississippi property rights case in a publication issued last month titled, Government Theft: The Top 10 Abuses of Eminent Domain, 1998-2002.