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State Pits Heidelberger Against Heidelberger in Suit over Out-of-State Money Ban

In its first full response to arguments in SD Voice & Heidelberger v Noem, Ravnsborg, & Barnett, the State of South Dakota finds itself so hard-pressed to defend its impending unconstitutional ban on non-South Dakotans’ contributions to ballot question committees that the strongest voice it can find for its case is me:

In his own words, Plaintiff Cory Heidelberger emphasizes the damage that out-of-state contributors may have on South Dakota politics. In 2016, voters approved “Marsy’s Law,” a constitutional amendment that “expanded rights for crime victims[.]”… The enacted law had unintended consequences, such as increasing the costs for county governments…. Therefore, Constitutional Amendment Y, which was placed on South Dakota’s 2018 primary election ballot, sought to revise and clarify certain provisions of Marsy’s Law…. In opposing Amendment Y, Plaintiff Heidelberger authored the “con” statement and emphasized that: “Marsy’s Law is an abomination, graffiti scrawled across our constitution by a California billionaire who has never set foot in our state to explore or explain the need for his proposal in South Dakota.” (emphasis added). Plaintiff Heidelberger goes on to stress that if the South Dakota voters pass Amendment Y, South Dakota “will only strengthen the California billionaire’s ability to force his vanity project down the throats of other states, imposing similar untold expense on taxpayers across America just as he has done to South Dakota.” Given these statements, Plaintiffs cannot deny the significant threat that out-of-state contributors pose to South Dakota’s ballot questions and its democratic self-government [Asst. Atty. Gen. Stacy Hegge, Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction, SD Voice & Heidelberger v. Noem, Ravnsborg, & Barnett, Case #1:19-cv-01003-CBK, filed 2019.04.10, p. 8].

Pass the popcorn….

I did say exactly those words about California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas’s vanity project and the cowardly rush repair our craven legislators crafted to save his vanity at the expense of good lawmaking. Whether those words support the state’s argument that Henry T. Nicholas, Iowans, and other strangers don’t have First Amendment rights remains to be seen… but it does amuse me to know that, either way, I’m going to win this case.

The first public hearing of this case in court, to consider enjoining the enactment of SDCL 12-27-18.2, remains on track for Friday, May 3, 10:30 a.m. in Judge Charles Kornmann’s courtroom here in Aberdeen.


  1. grudznick 2019-04-11

    It amuses grudznick that either way, Mr. H is going to lose this case, and either way, the out-of-state dark-money and evil doers will take a black eye.

  2. Donald Pay 2019-04-11

    Exactly, Cory. You have really set this up to win either way. You are in a win-win situation here. If you win, you win. And if you lose, you win. The question I have of myself is who do I want to win this: You or You?

  3. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2019-04-11

    In the absence of Cory as one of the plaintiffs, what would be the State’s response?

    The current State response is a classical example of Republicans stealing Democratic ideas and then runnning with them. I am told they do this often in Pierre during the legislative session or through the cousse of two sessions.

    Just because someone does not like the influence of out of state money does not mean that they do not understand its valid constitutionality in time and place.

    A course, our Republican friends will ignore any stare decisis decision so long as it suffices their paternalistic and/or partisan interests. Is it not interesting that the Republicans in this state have somehow forgotten the conservative Citizens United decision, while Democrats in respect for stare decisis are merely serving a dinner, which in time will force the Republicans to eat their own crow.

  4. Certain Inflatable Rubber Devices 2019-04-11

    It’s a classic. Ravnsborg may decide he don’ like this job if he actually has to do something. That’d prolly win you a medal. I am enjoying this more than Marty’s loss on the Flandreau pot trial.

  5. Certain Inflatable Rubber Devices 2019-04-11

    I’m gonna make a stab at makin it to the hearing.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-12

    Donald, I always play to win, even if defeat, per Grudznick, is inevitable.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-12

    CIRD, really? This can’t be half as fun as watching Marty’s office fumble the Flandreau pot case. Ravnsborg is keeping a lower profile on this case than Jackley did against Hagen. But unlike Jackley and Ravnsborg, I don’t want to stand in the way of anyone’s good time. I’ll at least try to soften him up for the next big case to blow through.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-12

    And CIRD, the court welcomes all visitors, and I welcome all parties interested in defending the First Amendment from an overreaching state.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-12

    JKC, your fourth sentence aptly and optimally responds to the State’s wry effort to draw its brief from my vast body of writing. The Founders wrote the Bill of Rights in part to protect the rights of people we might not like.

    As for stare decisis, there’s a lot more case law on my side than the state’s. Even the main cases the state cites—Bernal, Wagner, Beaumont, Bluman (written by Judge Brett Kavanaugh from the DC District bench in 2011!)—all do more to support the plaintiffs’ position that banning out-of-state money is illegal than the state’s position that First Amendment rights are conditional on your state of residence..

    (Worth noting: another of the state’s “authorities”—a 2016 law journal note from then-law student Tyler Roberts—also cites Dakota Free Press.)

  10. mike from iowa 2019-04-12

    Any bets on which Heidelberger will win- the good one versus the other good one?

  11. jerry 2019-04-12

    I’m betting on that feller from Aberdeen as he seems the better litigator.

  12. jerry 2019-04-12

    That would be Heidelberger of course.

  13. Donald Pay 2019-04-12

    If the state wins, it is an admission of the corrupt state of affairs in South Dakota. And you can push the case right back up their rectum, and expand that law over time. I’m not sure His Honor Judge Kornmann will be able to face up to his own part in the mining initiatives, where foreign money, not just out-of-state money, was used to defeat South Dakota citizens’ initiatives on surface mining. The sad fact is corruption is a way of life in South Dakota politics, and that corruption depends on a steady flow of out-of-state money. The only problem the power elite seem to have is when out-of-state money is spent to counter their corruption.

  14. South DaCola 2019-04-12

    Doesn’t anyone find it a bit hypocritical that they don’t want out of state money going towards initiatives and referendums but have NO problem passing model legislation from industry lobbyists and ALEC? Kettle meet black.

  15. mike from iowa 2019-04-12

    South DaCola- would most of the voting public even notice or care? The voters don’t seem to mind the corruption prevalent in your lege and above.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-12

    South DaCola, I certainly find it hypocritical. I plan to read heartily from the state’s brief in opposition at every hearing next Session in which someone from out of state comes to lobby or in which any legislator proposes “model legislation” sent to them by ALEC, the Koch Brothers, or any other advocacy group from elsewhere.

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