In a contentious 4-3 decision, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling that struck down the state law used to approve the Keystone XL route.
While four of the seven judges agreed the landowners who brought the suit should have standing, Nebraska law requires a supermajority -- five judges -- in agreement to strike down legislation as unconstitutional.
The four judges who believed the three landowners should have standing to challenge the law (LB1161) and found the legislation unconstitutional included Lindsey Miller-Lerman, Michael McCormack, William M. Connolly, Francie C. Riedmann.
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Of the four, Miller-Lerman and McCormack are registered Democrats and were appointed by former Gov. Ben Nelson. Riedmann is a nonpartisan and was appointed by former Gov. Dave Heineman. Connolly also is a nonpartisan and was also appointed by Nelson.
The three judges who found the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law, and did not comment on its constitutionality, were Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican, Kenneth C. Stephan and William B. Cassel.
Heavican and Cassel are both Republicans appointed by Heineman. Stephan is a Democrat and was appointed by Nelson.
Supreme Court Judge John F. Wright, a Democrat appointed by Nelson, recused himself from the case and was replaced by Riedman, a judge on the Court of Appeals.