Justice Department Says Corporate Farm Ban Violates ADA
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 8, 2006
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA--The U.S. Department of Justice is opposing a Nebraska ban on corporate farming, claiming it violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
U.S. attorneys filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief on May 25 with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering whether Initiative 300 is unconstitutional. Voter-approved I-300, which became Nebraska law in 1982, prohibits corporations and some other business entities from owing farmland or engaging in agricultural activity in Nebraska.
Several ranchers filed a lawsuit against the state, asserting that the ban unfairly discriminates against farmers with disabilities because it requires at least one family member who owns a farm to be engaged in its daily physical activities. The plaintiffs also claim that the law kept them from trying to form family corporations to protect their own operations or to combine their operations with neighbors.
Last December, U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Smith-Camp struck down the law, ruling that it violates Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination in public services.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning filed an appeal of Smith-Camp's decision in March, claiming that, among other things, two of the plaintiffs cannot sue the state because they do not have disabilities and have not been "injured" by I-300.
"Jim Jones v. John Gale" (U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals)