Oct 31, 2023 - News

Metro wins legal challenge over airport law

Illustration of Nashville City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

A panel of judges ruled Tuesday the new law granting state leaders control of the Airport Authority's board of directors violates the state constitution.

Why it matters: The unanimous 3-0 ruling is another emphatic victory in Metro's battle with the state over a wave of new laws targeting Nashville.

  • The ruling restores local control over the Nashville International Airport, a major economic engine for the region that has enjoyed massive growth in recent years.

State of play: The new board of directors, appointed by Republican state leaders, is immediately vacated and the former board, appointed by Nashville mayors, is restored.

Zoom out: Metro previously won lower court rulings on the state law that cut the size of the Metro Council in half. In that case, three judges ruled the law could not take effect prior to the recent August elections.

  • The city also won a challenge to a state law that reduced the number of Metro Council votes required to approve a fairgrounds racetrack improvement plan.
  • The state said it won't appeal the fairgrounds ruling, but the legal fight over the size of the council is ongoing.

What they're saying: "This is a big deal," Metro director of law Wally Dietz tells Axios. "You now have three rulings from three different panels with a majority of Republican judges saying these laws are illegal."

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