Mississippi: House committee approves plan to let Chief Justice pick judge to hear challenges to state laws; part of larger national trend to get lawsuits out of state capitals

Like legislatures in other states such as North Carolina and Texas, Mississippi has attempted in recent years to move challenges to the constitutionality of state laws out of the courts that sit in the state’s capital and instead allow for the state’s chief justice to select the judge(s) to hear such cases. The most recent efforts in this area just cleared the House Judiciary A committee this week.

Under HB 805 as introduced when there is a lawsuit “challenging the lawfulness or constitutionality of any state law, order, rule or regulation” the case would not be assigned to the Circuit Judge(s) in that county. Instead, the case would be filed with the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice shall “designate and notify a [Circuit Court] judge to hear and determine the matters at issue.”

News reports for the 2015 bill indicated this is an effort to bypass judges in Hinds County, where the capital is located.

This isn’t the first time this plan was submitted. HB 710 of 2015 was approved by the full House 70-48 and was discussed here but died in the Senate Judiciary A Committee. HB 719 of 2016 never even came out of the House committee.