Appeals Court Rejects Nebraska's Corporate Farm Ban
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 18, 2006
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA--The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court's decision that Nebraska's ban on corporate farms is unconstitutional.
At issue is Initiative 300, which Nebraska voters approved in 1982 and which prohibits corporations and some other business entities from owning farmland or engaging in agricultural activity in the state. Several ranchers -- including some with disabilities -- sued the state, claiming that I-300 discriminates against them because it requires at least one family member who owns a farm to be engaged in its daily physical activities. The plaintiffs also claimed that the law keeps them from trying to form family corporations to protect their own operations or to combine their operations with neighbors.
Last December, U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith-Camp ruled that I-300 violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, along with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits disability discrimination in public services. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning appealed Smith-Camp's decision, claiming that, among other things, two of the plaintiffs couldn't sue the state because they do not have disabilities and have not been 'injured' by I-300.
On December 13 of this year, the three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld Smith-Camp's decision, ruling that I-300 discriminates against out-of-state businesses. It did not rule on whether the law violates the ADA.
The next day, Bruning released a statement saying that his office would request a rehearing of the case by the entire Eighth Circuit panel.
Jim Jones v. John Gale (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit)