Perhaps I am persuading South Dakota’s one-party regime to trust the people more. In the state’s response to my legal challenge to its unconstitutional suppression of our right to petition our government, Assistant Attorney General Holly Farris demands a trial by jury:
It makes sense that the state would seek to put the fate of its looming circulator badging and registry requirement and its absurdly early deadline for initiative petitions in the hands of twelve regular citizens. Why come back to Aberdeen just to have Judge Charles Kornmann take them to school again on the First Amendment and the rights of petitioners? The Attorney General’s flimsy arguments about the dangers of Americans from somewhere other than South Dakota speaking up about South Dakota’s politics withered under the glare of serious judicial scrutiny before the state got to say its first words in the courtroom. Maybe the state thinks its wild warnings about stranger danger (and the compelling need it contends arises therefrom to force South Dakotans to get government permission to circulate ballot question petitions, surrender their personal phone number and home address to harassing opponents, and race to submit petitions a full year before the election) will fare better with a jury of South Dakotans rather than with a robed scholar who earns his paycheck by daily scrutinizing the Constitution.
But even a jury has to rule on the law and the Constitution, not the contrived xenophobia and anti-democratic sentiments of our Executive and Legislative branches. I’ll make the law and the Constitution clear to whoever decides this case, whether it’s one person or twelve.