Attorneys for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) are apparently changing strategies in their efforts to block the takeover of the city’s international airport, as evidenced by a recent request to amend its initial complaint.
The motion was filed in late October.
In the amended motion, attorneys argue the state is attempting to do away with JMAA based on the board’s racial makeup.
Attorneys go on to claim that JMAA board members are public employees under state law that abolishing the authority violates those members’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The motion is the latest volley fired in the airport takeover case.
The city and JMAA filed suit against the state in 2016, after lawmakers approved SB 2162, legislation doing away with JMAA and replaces it with a regional board made up of state and regional appointees.
With a new board, Jackson would essentially lose control of the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, an airport that has fallen under the city’s jurisdiction for decades.
City officials have long argued that the state was attempting the takeover based on race.
All five JMAA commissioners are African American.
Meanwhile, SB 2162 was authored by a group of white Republican lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant, also a white Republican.
The state opposes the effort, saying the plaintiffs are trying to create standing where they have none and that discovery in the case is “functionally complete.”
The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.