Noem Says Sponsors of Unconstitutional Laws Should Pay Legal Fees – Dakota Free Press
The Republican attack on the right of South Dakotans to make their own laws continues. After overriding voter-approved Amendment A on a tense legal technicality, Governor Kristi Noem this week launched a financial attack on the sponsor* of this marijuana legalization initiative, saying she intends to force them to pay his private lawyers to carry out this lawsuit:
And although Noem unilaterally authorized state involvement in the case against South Dakota for better marijuana laws, the campaign committee tasked with putting the issue of cannabis legalization before voters, taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill, said Ian Fury, a spokesman. in the governor’s office.
“Amendment A supporters have submitted an unconstitutional amendment and should reimburse the taxpayers of South Dakota for the costs associated with their drafting errors,” he told Chief Argus, noting that the drafters of the measure vote were warned by both the Legislative Research Council and South Dakota. Attorney General’s Office that ballot measure was vulnerable to legal challenge [Joe Sneve, “Gov. Noem Wants Pro-Marijuana Group to Cover Costs of Fighting Amendment A in Court,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.01.14].
Matthew Schweich, campaign manager for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the sponsoring ballot issues committee that Noem is targeting, says there’s no way they’re paying the attorney bills of Name:
Cannabis reform supporters in South Dakota have no obligation to pay @govkristinoempolitical crusade to overthrow the will of the people. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.
Amendment A was a sensible, well-drafted initiative endorsed by a majority of South Dakota voters at the polls, and it was only repealed due to a deeply flawed court ruling that relied on legal theory. far-fetched devoid of evidence.
Driven by her desire to deprive South Dakotans of personal freedom over cannabis, Governor Noem went out of her way to create an unnecessary legal battle over Amendment A and used taxpayer dollars to do it. As a result of his actions, the people of South Dakota paid to have their own votes nullified. [Matthew Schweich, tweets, 2022.01.14].
I have twice successfully sued the State of South Dakota to strike down unconstitutional laws. In 2019, a federal court overturned the measure initiated 24; in 2020, the same federal court struck down Bill 1094 of 2019. In both cases, the losing party – the state – had to pay the dominant party – me – attorney fees for the trouble we got had to attack us to defend the voters and the Constitution from South Dakota’s overreach.
So why shouldn’t Noem and his legal doggies, as the winning party in this lawsuit, get attorneys’ fees for prevailing over the will of the people?
They should, but not Amendment A sponsors. Noem’s attorneys should be compensated from the same source as my attorney in SD Voice vs. Noem I and SD Voice vs. Noem II: the state of South Dakota.
Speaker of the House, G. Mark Mickelson, was the sponsor and main concocter of legal arguments for Measure 24 initiated. But I had never considered suing him, much less blaming him for my troubles. Rep. Jon Hansen was the sponsor and primary advocate for the public and the courtroom for 2019 HB 1094. But I never considered suing him, let alone taking attorney fees off his skin. ‘attorney. G. Mark and Jon and Matthew Schweich and everyone else in this state are free to come up with any laws they want, nonsense and otherwise, without incurring any legal liability. It is the entity that enacts an outlandish idea that bears the responsibility for violating the Constitution.
The state, by popular vote, enacted IM 24. The state bore the cost of defending IM 24 and paying for its unconstitutionality.
The state, through legislative votes and the governor’s signature, enacted 2019 HB 1094. The state bore the cost of defending HB 1094 and paying for its unconstitutionality.
The state, by popular vote, enacted Amendment A. The state bears the cost of defending Amendment A and paying for its unconstitutionality.
Sponsors of legislation, whether bills in the Legislative Assembly or initiatives on the ballot, certainly get the ball rolling. But the sponsors do not enact the laws: the body politic does. Sponsors may propose unconstitutional ideas, but those ideas do not violate anyone’s rights until the body politic – through its elected representatives or through direct democracy – embraces those ideas. And when enacting, the responsibility for such bad ideas rests entirely with the enacting body –We the people.
Noem isn’t attacking the sponsors of Amendment A because she hates marijuana. She is threatening the SDBML with a six figure legal bill because she and her party hate democracy. Republicans in South Dakota have introduced bills to impose court fees on voting matters commissions that would bankrupt grassroots organizations and thereby scare low-budget citizen groups from the political field.
Shifting responsibility for unconstitutional laws from the state to the sponsors of these measures could backfire on the governor. After all, she has proposed at least four measures in the 2022 legislature — school prayer, a ban on transgender athletes, restrictions on teaching history and civics — that could do the subject of legal challenges (pray, transgender, trivial CRT and substantial). If one of Noem’s outlandish ideas is adopted and the courts overturn it, will Noem agree to pay the predominant plaintiffs from her personal finances? If Rep. Fred Deutsch passes his anti-trans bill, or if Rep. Aaron Aylward and Senator Jessica Castleberry ask the Legislature to pass their police defunding bill, can we crush their personal finances when their bills fail in court?
With her threat to have her attorney bills paid by Amendment A sponsors, Governor Noem is like a terrorist pointing a gun at an airplane at 30,000 feet. She thinks she is hijacking the initiative process, but if she pulls the trigger, everyone is in trouble, including her own team of hijackers.
*Amendment A sponsors also paid this blog $100 to advertise their current initiative petition campaign. This sponsorship has no impact on the content, tone or publication of my analysis of this issue.