Mississippi entrepreneurs stand up against government overreach
The Mississippi Justice Institute, along with the Cato Institute, and the Pelican Institute have come to the defense of Vizaline LLC, a Mississippi tech startup that the government wants to put out of business.
The three constitutional litigation centers filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief on May 1 that urges the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a wrongful dismissal of the Mississippi company’s lawsuit against the government. Vizaline utilizes a publicly-available legal description of a bank’s property and then inputs those parameters into a computer program that generates a line drawing of the property description. The program then overlays those drawings onto a satellite photograph and the customer receives the Viza-plat within 48 hours.
The Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors filed a lawsuit in Madison County Chancery Court against Vizaline in September 2017, accusing the company of engaging in the “unlicensed practice of surveying” and seeking the return of all of the fees paid to the company.
With the help of the Institute for Justice, the company filed a counter suit on First Amendment grounds in July 2018, but the counter suit was wrongfully dismissed on December 18.
The amicus brief argues that the December decision by a federal district court contradicts several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that uphold the concept that the dissemination of public information, even done for profit, is protected under the First Amendment.