A group opposed to the construction of a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas says the state has filed an amicus brief in support of a landowner who is challenging the company’s eminent domain authority.
According to Texans Against High-Speed Rail, Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone II and Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the brief last week in the James Miles v. Texas Central case before the Texas Supreme Court on behalf of the state. Miles, a landowner in Leon County, is challenging whether or not Texas Central is legally recognized as a railroad company under state law.
The brief says in part that the state does not take a stance on the “wisdom or utility of building a high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston.” However, it also says that “private actors who seek to seize private property using eminent-domain powers must strictly comply with statutory and constitutional conditions governing the use of such powers.” It then claims that Texas Central and Integrated Texas Logistics have not done so.
The brief also says the two respondents, in the state’s view, have “failed to demonstrate that they are either ‘railroad companies’ or ‘interurban electric railway companies’ authorized to exercise eminent domain under the Transportation Code.” The brief then adds that the two cannot demonstrate “reasonable probability” of completing the project.
Trey Duhon, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, said the brief means that the state “has taken the official position that Texas Central is not a railroad and does not have the authority to use eminent domain.”
Oral arguments for the case are set to begin in the Texas Supreme Court on January 11, 2022.