Mark Mickelson wants to keep out-of-state money away from South Dakota ballot questions, and if you think that’s unconstitutional, he’s ready to debate.
“I am sick and tired of reading some knothead from some political group that doesn’t have a law degree presupposing he knows constitutional law and asserting something that’s in his own self-interest,” he said [Seth Tupper, “New Podcast: Mickelson Relishes Ballot-Question Fight,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.10.23].
Knothead? Without a law degree? To whom could Mickelson be referring?
Certainly not Paul S. Ryan, one expert Tupper cites contending the unconstitutionality of Mickelson’s money ban. Ryan, vice president of policy an litigation for Common Cause, has a law degree from UCLA. I don’t know of any self-interest Ryan may have in South Dakota ballot questions, but back in June, he gave AP this constitutional analysis:
But, the likelihood the ballot initiative would be upheld in a court challenge is “slim-to-none,” according to Paul S. Ryan, a vice president at the Washington watchdog Common Cause, which opposes big money in politics.
The ballot measure proposal conflicts with a 1981 U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared that contributions to ballot measure committees can’t be limited under the First Amendment, Ryan said.
“People in other states haven’t really pursued this as a viable reform,” Ryan said. “It is pretty rare to see people pursue a reform that the Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional” [James Nord, “Measure Aims to Ban Out-of-State Giving to Ballot Questions,” AP via U.S. News and World Report, 2017.06.20].
I’m sure that Mickelson’s Harvard Law education included some mention that beating that argument in court will take more than shouting “knothead” at the plaintiffs.
In that same AP article, Koch brothers’ minion Ben Lee called Mickelson’s money ban unconstitutional. Ben Lee only has an MBA and a broadcast journalism degree from USF—maybe he’s the knothead Mickelson has in mind… in which case I welcome Mickelson’s freedom, second the motion, and move to extend and revise Mickelson’s description to include everybody working for the Koch brothers’ self-interest at Americans for Prosperity.
That will bring us all a good laugh, but it still won’t beat the constitutional argument that says South Dakota can’t restrict the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of Minnesotans, Iowegians, or any other red-blooded American to support or oppose a ballot measure in South Dakota.
I won’t call Mickelson a knothead for ignoring that point. He’s just… stubborn.