Friday's hearing in Nebraska Supreme Court primarily addressed two concerns: the constitutionality of LB 1161 and the legality of taxpayers bringing suit against a state statute. The oral arguments lasted half an hour.
Deputy Attorney General Katherine Spohn, arguing for the state said that the three landowners challenging the statute have no legal right to do so. However, soon after stating this opinion, one of the justices inserted that, according to Cunningham v. Exon, taxpayers can challenge state laws in matters of "great concern." Spohn held firm to her belief that
Cunningham does not apply in this case.
David Domina, the attorney representing the three landowners, contends that LB 1161, a 2012 law that gave Gov. Heineman authority to approve Keystone XL's route, is being challenged on the grounds of constitutionality. Domina argues that TransCanada is a textbook common carrier, not an oil company. By definition, common carriers are companies who transport people or things for a price, and are regulated by Nebraska's Public Service Commission.
This Nebraska high court case is virtually the only thing holding up presidential approval of the international Keystone XL pipeline project.
View a slideshow of photos from the courtroom last Friday.
Read the Journal Star's coverage of the Supreme Court showdown.