Supreme Court of Mississippi Stays Proceedings Until Court Considers Constitutionality of Eminent Domain

John Kramer
John Kramer · September 28, 2001

Washington, D.C.-The Supreme Court of Mississippi today ordered a stay of further proceedings in the State of Mississippi’s attempt to take the Archie family’s land while the Court considers the constitutional issues in the case. The Archies are threatened with the loss of their homes and land through eminent domain because the State wants to transfer their property to Nissan to build a manufacturing facility.

“With its order today, the Supreme Court has guaranteed that nothing is going to happen to the Archies and their property as the Court considers the vital constitutional issues at stake in this case,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice and lead counsel for the Archies. “Justice took a major step forward today.”

Just yesterday, the Institute filed a motion to stay hearings previously scheduled for Monday, October 1, until the Supreme Court considers the heart of the Archies’ legal claims, including the constitutional challenge to the use of eminent domain to remove them from their land. Today’s ruling states, “After due consideration, the panel finds proceedings in the lower court should be stayed pending this Court’s disposition of the direct appeals in these matters.”

The State of Mississippi is abusing its eminent domain authority by taking the land of Madison County property owners not for a public use, but at the behest of a private company—Nissan Motor Co.—for its private use. The State wants to throw these people, who have owned their property for generations, out of their homes and off their land. The property owners, with the help of the Institute for Justice and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, are fighting back.

“We are elated with the Supreme Court’s wisdom in staying these proceedings against the Archies,” said Stephanie Parker-Weaver, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Jackson, Mississippi, chapter.

A state official recently admitted in The New York Times that the Archie’s land is not necessary for the Nissan project, but that his office is pursuing the taking to save face for the State. On September 10, 2001, The Times quoted James C. Burns Jr., the executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, when he said, “It’s not that Nissan is going to leave if we don’t get that land. What’s important is the message it would send to other companies if we are unable to do what we said we would do. If you make a promise to a company like Nissan, you have to be able to follow through.”

“The State arrogantly refused to stop its illegal eminent domain actions while the appeal was pending. Now the Supreme Court has put a stop to it,” Bullock concluded. “We look forward to presenting the constitutional issues to this Court.”



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