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Press Release: Nebraskans Turn to Pres. Obama to Protect Land and Water

Landowners, Susan Dunavan, Randy Thompson, and Suz Straka, at the Capitol after the Nebraska Supreme Court hearing on September 5, 2014. (Photo by J Grace Young)

Landowners, Susan Dunavan, Randy Thompson, and Suz Straka, at the Capitol after the Nebraska Supreme Court hearing on September 5, 2014. (Photo by J Grace Young)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 9, 2014

CONTACTS:

LEGAL TEAM:
Dave Domina, lead attorney, Domina Law Group, 402-493-4100, dad@dominalaw.com
Brian Jorde, assistant attorney, Domina Law Group, 402-965-3598, BJorde@dominalaw.com

PLAINTIFFS:
Randy Thompson, landowner and plaintiff, 402-920-2759, randyft@windstream.net
Susan Dunavan, landowner and plaintiff, 402-363-1479, scdunavan50@gmail.com
Susan Heyden, landowner and plaintiff, 402-340-5155, suzie_sl@hotmail.com

BOLD NEBRASKA:
Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska, 402-705-3622, jane@boldnebraska.org

NE SIERRA CLUB:
Ken Winston, 402-212-3737, ken.winston@nebraska.sierraclub.org

LINK TO NE SUPREME COURT RULING:
https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/sites/supremecourt.ne.gov/files/sc/opinions/s14-158.pdf

Nebraskans Turn to Pres. Obama
to Protect Land and Water

Lincoln, NE — In a split decision, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on Friday to allow LB 1161 to stand. Four of the seven justices sided with landowners, but we needed five to win — as a “supermajority” of concurring justices is required when constitutional issues are raised.

The Nebraska Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision that stated the Unicameral and Governor used an illegal routing process for the Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada is left with a risky route to defend. The decision is now in Pres. Obama’s hands. This is a bad day for property rights in Nebraska. Private, foreign corporations now know they can buy their way through our state.

This ruling does clear the way for the State Department to complete their analysis and for federal agencies to weigh in on risks to water and climate.

We are confident the President will stand with farmers, ranchers and tribal communities and reject Keystone XL once and for all.

Dave Domina, Landowners’ Attorney:

“What happened:

First, every Nebraska judge who passed on constitutionality voted that the statute is unconstitutional and void. Trial court. Four Supreme Court justices.

Second, The Supreme Court divided on standing. Three justices would have held we lack standing. Four ruled we do have standing, and four controls the standing issue. But it doesn’t make any difference that we did.

Third, our victory on standing is insufficient because the three judges against us refused to vote on the constitutional questions after losing on standing. They refused to vote at all on any constitutional issue. We had a unanimous four-justice majority declaring the statute unconstitutional. But the Constitution requires five votes.

This means the three justices who we lost with on standing controlled the outcome by refusing to vote on the merits.

The three justices who ruled against us on standing are Heavican, Cassell, and Stephens.”

Randy Thompson, Landowner Plaintiff: “While the outcome may not be what we had hoped for, I believe we have successfully sent the message that Nebraska citizens are willing to stand up and fight back against the politically corrupting influence of rich and powerful corporations. Even if LB1161 has been found to be technically legal, it still does not make it right, and the passage of this legislation represents a gross injustice to many hardworking Nebraska families.”

Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska: “When you take a punch, you stand up and keep on fighting. We continue to stand with President Obama in his skepticism of the export pipeline and encourage him to reject Keystone XL now. The only decision that will bring peace of mind to landowners is watching the President use the power of the pen to stop this risky pipeline once and for all.”

Susan Dunavan, Landowner Plaintiff: “I am thankful to the Nebraska Supreme Court Justices for hearing our case, but I am deeply disappointed that the Judges have ruled against Judge Stacy’s decision regarding the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of LB 1161. I am alarmed that our elected officials are allowed to pass legislation that directly violates the Nebraska State Constitution. A dangerous precedent has been set by this ruling. This ruling is in violation of our landowner rights, denies our right to due process and allows our lawmakers to continue to ignore the Constitution of the State of Nebraska.”

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