You know, the thing that fascinates me about this article on Mississippi doing Nissan's bidding (NY TIMES, registration required) is that they totally surf past what would seem to be a core issue. Nobody disputes the power of the state to take property via eminent domain. What is rather startling is that the state is doing so purely to hand the property over to a private corporation. Normally, eminent domain may only be used if the state intends to retain the taken property -- for highways and roads, parks, and the like. A parking lot for a private company does not normally fit the bill. "The need to demonstrate to businesses around the country that they are utterly serious about attracting big corporate investments" does not normally fit the bill. I had thought that the transfer of property via eminent domain, in that manner, was in fact flatly illegal.
That said, I think that the civil rights challenge to the state will and should fail; there's no evidence that they would have treated a white family any differently in that situation. Unfortunately, the commerce issue isn't nearly as "sexy" from a media point of view. It is, in fact, not illegal for the state to say, "Sell, or we'll take it and pay a lower price"; that's the way eminent domain generally works, and even if the threat was considerably less immediate, that's the threat that was hanging over all property owners involved.
Of course, the other aspect to this is that the longer the project is delayed, and the more hideous publicity they all get for this, the more likely it is that Nissan will look about and say something like, "You know, we've got a plant in Tennessee already. Why don't we just expand that? They like us there." I'm sure there's a substantial penalty for doing so in the agreement, but ultimately, it might be worth it to them.
12/19/2001: vive la france
12/19/2001: princess, redux
12/19/2001: yemen and rumsfeld
12/18/2001: you're NOT in the army now
12/18/2001: interesting donation
12/18/2001: shame on winn dixie, indeed
12/18/2001: saudi princess
12/17/2001: new resolve
12/17/2001: a victim of the attack ... yeah, right
12/17/2001: polluters ho!