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Taylor Sues Haugaard for Retaliatory Floor Ban; Schoenbeck Says Speaker Goofus Broke Federal Law

When Lee Schonebeck talks, people should listen….

It only took Representative Steven Haugaard (R-10/Sioux Falls) two weeks at the Speaker’s podium to get himself sued, and he hasn’t even passed any absurd misogynist anti-choice or anti-gay or anti-transgender violations of civil rights yet. All it took was Haugaard’s first big power trip, his unilateral violation of the civil rights of one woman, Yvonne Taylor:

Taylor’s lawsuit accuses Haugaard, who is a lawyer, of violating her First Amendment right to free speech and First Amendment retaliation. By banning her from the floor, she is unable to adequately represent her members, the lawsuit says.

“One important aspect of lobbying is circulating bill sponsor sheets and explaining to legislators the bill they are being asked to sponsor,” the lawsuit says. “Legislators sign the bill sponsor sheet in order to become a sponsor of a bill. This activity occurs almost exclusively on the floors of the House and Senate” [Jonathan Ellis, “Lobbyist Files Suit Against South Dakota House Speaker,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2019.01.22].

As a bonus, Taylor’s lawyer is David Lust, a former Republican legislator who voted against some of Haugaard’s efforts to shut the general public out of participatory democracy during the 2018 Session.

Another lawyer in the Legislature, Senator Lee Schoenbeck, made clear on the radio Saturday that he thinks Speaker Haugaard has this lawsuit coming:

That goofus now is probably gonna get the state sued, because it’s called a 1983 Action. It’s illegal to do what he did. The rules let him set the decorum for the House, but he couldn’t, for example, say, “I don’t want any blacks on the floor, or I don’t want any Catholics or Jews on the floor,” and he can’t say “I don’t want anybody that writes things that disagree with the government on the floor” [Senator Lee Schoenbeck, interviewed by Jody Heemstra, “Speaker Bans SD Municipal League Executive Director from House Floor,”, 2019.01.18].

Goofus?! Great Gaia, I’ve got to add that word to my working vocabulary. And we’ve all got to watch now to see if Speaker Haugaard takes that insult as grounds to ban Senator Schoenbeck from the floor during Governor Noem’s tardy budget address tomorrow.

Now wait a minute—1983 Action? That’s no joke about what we were wishing for in junior high; that’s federal civil rights law:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia [42 U.S. Code § 1983].

(And by the way, when I check Cornell Law’s website, I get an ad from Schoenbeck Law. Lee is everywhere!)

This legal advice brought to you by Lee Schoenbeck, attorney at law. Call now for your quote!
This legal advice brought to you by Lee Schoenbeck, attorney at law. Call now for your quote!

As if goofus and 1983 Action weren’t enough, Schoenbeck deliberately goaded Haugaard with an assertion that members of the House share Taylor’s characterization of the Haugaard fringe as “wackies.” The context of the Heemstra/Schoenbeck leaves Lee’s words unclear, but the interview suggests that a fellow sitting legislator referred to a proliferation of “crazies”:

That’s the opinion of members of the House of Representatives. There’s a critical mass that are more than a bubble off, and it creates policy issues for the State of South Dakota, and now they have a Speaker of the House who doesn’t understand the United States Constitution and is defining himself cleanly into that group. You can’t be screwing every municipality in the state of South Dakota and the taxpayers that are funding this lobbyist and refusing to let our representative be the only person who is not allowed on the floor of the House of Representatives [Schoenbeck, in Heemstra, 2019.01.18].

Would someone please hang a hot mike on Senator Schoenbeck and let it run all Session?

Remember how Schoenbeck rang in early to declare the ultra-right-wing challenge to two elected Democratic Lakota women’s qualifications to serve in the Legislature “stupid“? That challenge fizzled fast. Now Schoenbeck calls the ultra-right-wing Speaker of the House a goofus who doesn’t understand the United States Constitution and points to exactly the federal (federal!!!) statute Speaker Goofus violated in banning an uppity woman from the floor. Even if Haugaard dissolves his ban now, Taylor can still make the case that his breach of her civil rights caused concrete damage to her and to the constituents from around the state whom she serves but whose interests have already been stifled by the Speaker’s abuse of power.

Gee, House Republicans, maybe you should take my advice and remove Speaker Haugaard before he gets you in even more trouble.

Related Reading: For those of you scoring at home, Yvonne Taylor and South Dakota Municipal League v. Steven Haugaard is Case Number 3:19-cv-03003-RAL in the U.S. District Court of South Dakota. The presiding judge if Roberto A. Lange, son of former Democratic legislator Gerry Lange from Madison. you can read the six-page complaint yourself here. Among the highlights:

  1. Taylor asserts that, since at least 1991, no one has ever been banned from the House floor during the hours that it is open to the public.
  2. Taylor seeks no windfall, just a court order that she be allowd on the House floor like other lobbyists and members of the public… and that Haugaard pay for Lust’s lawyering.
  3. Also listed as Taylor’s attorney: Sara Frankenstein, a Republican favorite who used to serve on the SDGOP executive board.
  4. And remember, Lust and Frankenstein work for Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson, and Ashmore, the Rapid City law firm that regained Marty Jackley as one of its legal eagles this month.

According to a memo filed with the court today, Haugaard has 21 days to respond to this summons, which was served on Haugaard in care of Jason Ravnsborg, Attorney General of South Dakota.

Taylor and SDML v Haugaard, summons, 2019.01.22.
Taylor and SDML v Haugaard, summons, 2019.01.22.

Ravnsborg is your attorney? Uh oh, Steve: you’d better make sure he doesn’t miss any deadlines. (I’ll bet that summons makes more than a few of Haugaard’s supporters wish they’d supported Randy Seiler for Attorney General.)

The plaintiffs’ memorandum in support of their motion for a preliminary injunction contains these beautiful words about political speech and the First Amendment:

It is beyond legitimate dispute that in authoring her May 2018 article, Plaintiff Taylor was engaged in protected speech and that by publishing the article, the League was engaged in protected speech. Plaintiff Taylor’s article encourages voter registration, explains the importance of voting for state legislators, and advocates for certain types of candidates over others. The article criticizes some legislators and advocates voter turnout to elect different legislators. Such political speech is the most protected speech under the First Amendment and associated case law. “The criticism of public officials lies at the heart of speech protected by the First Amendment”. Williams v. City of Carl Junction, 480 F.3d 871, 874 (8th Cir. 2007). Plaintiffs easily meet the first factor, demonstrating they engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment [emphasis mine; Taylor & SDML v. Haugaard, memorandum in support of motion, 2019.01.22, pp. 8–9].

Criticism of legislators is the most protected speech under the First Amendment. The most protected. Let’s make sure we write that line into any civics curriculum.

p.s.: And in absolute mitakuye oyasin craziness, the plaintiffs support their case with multiple citations of Bruce Danielson’s lawsuit against Mike Huether.


  1. Kal Lis 2019-01-22 22:05

    I remember Goofus and Gallant from Highlights Magazine when I was in elementary school.

    The big question is whether the speaker thinks being a goofus is more insulting than being a whacky. If so, will he try to get the Senate to boot Schoenbeck from the caucus?

  2. Rorschach 2019-01-22 22:58

    I bet that stoopid goofus … scratch that.

    I bet Speaker Hoogaard is really mad right now. Boo Hoo Hoogaard. What’s he gonna doo?

  3. Roger Cornelius 2019-01-22 23:19

    Good grief already!!
    “Hoogaard” is as elementary and petty as Trump. Is he really this stupid or is he working at it?

  4. Nick Nemec 2019-01-23 06:39

    Haugaard is a kookburger who has also admonished middle aged or older female legislators for wearing immodest clothing. He is a religious zealot attempting to enforce his constitutionally protected private religious views on others.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-23 07:21

    Nick! Do we have the admonition of women for their clothing on the record? Maybe those women could join Taylor’s suit for infringement of their freedom of expression? ;-)

  6. Donald Pay 2019-01-23 08:45

    I think Taylor should and will win her suit. However, one aspect of her suit bothers me.

    From the Jonathon Ellis article quoted above, we get this:

    “One important aspect of lobbying is circulating bill sponsor sheets and explaining to legislators the bill they are being asked to sponsor,” the lawsuit says. “Legislators sign the bill sponsor sheet in order to become a sponsor of a bill. This activity occurs almost exclusively on the floors of the House and Senate….”

    I used to lobby, and this is true, as far as it goes. There are numerous other places in the Capitol Building and out of it that co-sponsor signatures can be gathered, but these places aren’t as conducive to sitting down and explaining a bill to a legislator. That’s why lobbyists like to circulate these “petitions” on the Senate and House floors.

    But separate from the lawsuit, however, is this the way we really want government to operate? Do we really want lobbyists for special interests to circulate their proposal for legislation to gather co-sponsors, while citizens have very little access to legislators., and while the special interest gleefully pass legislation cutting off access to information and access to the initiative and referendum.

    Taylor lobbies for a powerful special interest. Ultimately, the Municipal League gets its money from taxpayers in cities, but those taxpayers don’t have much say in what Taylor is lobbying on. Taxpayers have access to the initiative and referendum, but Taylor and other powerful lobbyists who take advantage of using the floors of the legislature to push special interest legislation also have been the main drivers behind less open government and putting a lot of hurdles in front of citizens seeking to use the initiative and referendum. So, I’m hoping that this injustice will help Taylor and other special interest understand how citizens feel when they are treated like this. Taylor would do all of us a favor if she would now bring forth a bill to undo a lot of the damage her organization has done to citizen ballot measures and open government.

    I will stand up for her as she fights her injustice. Will she reverse course and stand up for citizens as they fight against the injustice they face from the powerful special interest lobbyists who get to circulate their proposals on the floors of the Legislature, while stripping rights from citizens?

  7. Nick Nemec 2019-01-23 08:55

    I have no first hand evidence the story was related to me by a male Republican member of the SD Legislature. The allegedly admonished female legislator is also a Republican.

  8. Porter Lansing 2019-01-23 09:20

    Observation presents that South Dakota truly has and is continuing to move toward the center. After the dark and dismal days of Codington County’s Tapio, Sen. Schoenbeck is no longer beatable.

  9. leslie 2019-01-23 12:20

    Hilarious. Gotta be more to this food fight😀. Lust. Revenge. Wing nut schism. Muni League bastion of SD GOP. Howdyah like being treated like a Democrat!? Speaker is a lawyer? Good thing Jason won’t have to do any lawyer’s work. He’s got 100 lawyers on staff. Big fees for Sara. Deep pockets all around. Expedited case, too! 😀 Hope to find out the total cost of this case to GOP as it sues itself. Misogyny too! Our super woman governor can save them.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-23 12:25

    A legislator was admonished for her clothing?! I’d love to hear that firsthand… but I imagine the Speaker’s tyrannical behavior has, as the Taylor suit contends, created an atmosphere that chills speech of reasonably firm individuals.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-23 12:26

    Porter, I’d take my chances with a Senate full of Schoenbeck “normals” over a House full of Haugaard wackies any day.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-23 12:36

    Donald, you raise an important complication. I entered this Session expecting complete domination of the agenda by the Noem/McCaulley regime of big-money lobbyists. If I stretched, I could dream that Speaker Haugaard’s ban on Taylor was just an opening gambit in a long-term drive to whack the lobbyists on the nose and open the door wider to regular folks.

    Alas, Haugaard has made his disdain for the electorate clear with his votes to defang initiative and referendum, his resistance to allowing Independents full voting rights, and his public declaration that the Legislature should be more powerful. He’s not acting against this one lobbyist to benefit the public; it’s his own personal power trip, his own ego, and that selfish drive has led him to run afoul of the Constitution and Section 1983.

    Mr. Ehrisman is bashing Taylor for what he perceives has her lobbyist agenda to stifle the voice of the taxpayers. I certainly agree that the big money behind lobbyists crowds out the voices of regular voters.

    But in this case, Speaker Haugaard deserves a judicial bruising and removal from the podium for abuse of power. The case, like the First Amendment, will not hinge (as Donald acknowledges) on how distasteful we may find Taylor’s speech and the big money behind it and the speech of other lobbyists. It will hinge on the fact that Haugaard violated basic constitutional rights.

    First let’s whack this wacky. Then, once he’s out (or at least duly chastised), we can find other arguments on which to whack the lobby-industrial complex.

  13. bearcreekbat 2019-01-23 12:55

    And once again the State will be on the hook for Plaintiff’s attorneys fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988 once she prevails.

    Repeated decisions by our state officials to enact rules and legislation that contradict federal statutory or constitutional obligations seem a bottomless pit. It reminds me of the words of 3 Stooges member Curly that were repeated the other day in Dana Milbank’s RC Journal editorial about Trump:

    If at first you don’t succeed, keep sucking until you do suck seed.

  14. mike from iowa 2019-01-23 13:16

    This greatest deliberately deplorable legislative body in South Dakota gets more childish every session. GACK!!

  15. Donald Pay 2019-01-23 15:56

    Well, Cory, I’m an equal opportunity whacker of both sides of this “fight.” I worked with both sides of the GOP and I’ve worked against both sides. I don’t like injustice, no matter who is giving or receiving, so I support Taylor. I said a lot worse things about Legislators during the 80s and 90s, and never had to put up with this. I’m glad someone of Taylor’s stature had this happen because she has the money to take it to court. Someone like me would have just had to suffer the humiliation, because I didn’t lobby for a rich and powerful interest.

  16. Jenny 2019-01-23 16:39

    What a creepy weirdo. He needs to back off with worrying about women wear. Cut the creepy porn mustache off Hogie.

  17. Nick Nemec 2019-01-23 17:22

    Back in my time in the legislature there were days when it was hard to get work done at your desk because of the constant stream of people coming to your desk to talk about various issues. I got in the habit that if I had a big speech I was getting ready for I would attend a committee hearing and get a chair in the audience with a window ledge I could use to place my legal pad on and proceed to write. No one bothered you because we were in a room with a committee hearing in progress. People might have wondered “why is Nemec taking so many notes on bill XXXX? I wonder what he is up to?”

  18. grudgenutz 2019-01-23 18:38

    When the apex predators run out of prey, they have to hunt each other.

  19. Donald Pay 2019-01-24 08:42

    grudgenutz, You have perfectly explain what is going on.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-26 08:29

    Nick, that’s a great work practice! They should bring you in to conduct orientation for new legislators.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-26 08:31

    Hey, Jenny, I have to speak up for mustaches. Mustaches don’t make porn. People make porn.

    Likewise, mustaches don’t ban citizens from the House floor. People on power trips ban citizens from the House floor.

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