Governor Dennis Daugaard reached for an awkward analogy yesterday to justify Republican legislators’ impending attack on our right to put initiatives and referenda on the ballot:
Daugaard says he’s tired of out-of-state money influencing South Dakota politics. He likens it to federal statutes preventing foreign money from influencing national politics.
“When you have out-of-state contributions contributing to a state matter, that’s a comparable thing,” Daugaard says. “So if you can limit foreign contributions to speech at the national level, should you not also be able to limit out of state contributions that are directed toward the debate on in-state issues?” [Lee Strubinger, “Daugaard Wants IM 22 Repealed and Replaced, Activists Say ‘Respect the Vote’,” SDPB Radio, 2017.01.10]
No, you should not. The barriers we can raise at our nation’s borders differ greatly from the barriers we can raise between states—hence the term, United States.
The United States can levy tariffs on Chinese goods. South Dakota cannot levy tariffs on Minnesotan goods.
The United States can require Chinese residents to obtain visas to enter the United States. South Dakota cannot require Minnesotans to obtain visas to enter South Dakota.
Practically and conceptually, Minnesotans are far more akin to South Dakotans in Constitutional rights than Chinese nationals are and can far more quickly become South Dakotans than Chinese nationals can.
Besides, Governor Daugaard took at least $27,200 in contributions from out-of-state individuals and PACs in 2013 alone. So what’s his problem with free speech across state lines?
I can sympathize with the Governor’s bunker impulse to close our borders to outsiders who would meddle in our politics. I myself have raged against mercenary petition circulators who violate our residency requirement for collecting signatures. But our petition-residency requirements may not withstand constitutional scrutiny. Limiting the free-speech rights of fellow Americans would even more likely fail a court challenge.
Related Reading: In November, Michael Wyland made the case that restrictions on out-of-state donations to state ballot measure campaigns are less defensible than out-of-state donations to Congressional candidates:
Out-of-state money donated for political campaigns, especially U.S. House and Senate campaigns, is far more reasonable in candidate elections than it is when applied to statewide ballot initiatives. The key reason is the scope of the campaign’s capacity and geography for proximate, direct effect. Therefore, it is appropriate to challenge an initiative’s expression of a state’s voters’ collective will and desires when those campaigns are financed primarily from outside its borders. On the other hand, candidate elections for the House and Senate have a built-in native element in their residency requirements for both candidacy and voting. Campaign finance offers the opportunity for residents and interests from across the country to give time, money, and other resources—but not their votes—to support or oppose candidates for national offices based on multi-state and national concerns [Michael Wyland, “Are There Two Sides of Out-of-State Money in Politics? About Those Embattled Ballot Questions,” Nonprofit Quarterly, 2016.11.04].