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Four South Dakotans Intervene to Pick Up Ravnsborg’s Slack in Defending Amendment A

Sensing that fatally distracted anti-marijuana Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg might not be able to adequately represent their interests, four South Dakotans have filed to intervene in the state-backed challenge to Amendment A, the voter-approved constitutionalization of cannabis in South Dakota.

The defendants are:

  • Randy Seiler, chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party and a former U.S. Attorney;
  • Melissa Mentele, executive director of New Approach South Dakota and sponsor of the successful medical marijuana ballot initiative;
  • Bill Stocker, a retired Sioux Falls police officer;
  • Chuck Parkinson, former staffer for Sen. Jim Abdnor and former appointees of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The defendants are represented by Brendan Johnson, a former U.S. Attorney for South Dakota and sponsor of Amendment A; Timothy Billion; and Eric Magnuson, former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Johnson said their legal fees are being paid by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, a ballot question political committee [Arielle Zionts, “Judge Grants Voters’ Request to Oppose Sheriff, Highway Patrol Supreintendent in Marijuana Lawsuit,” Rapid City Journal, 2020.12.04].

Judge Christina Klinger accepted those litigants’ intervention on December 1.

Ravnsborg’s office is trying to do its job. Assistant A.G. Grant Flynn has asked Judge Klinger to dismiss the Election Contest filed by Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and Highway Patrol Colonel Rick Miller. The state contends that Amendment A does not violate the single-subject rule. The state also contends that Amendment A did not have to go through a constitutional convention:

Flynn didn’t dispute that there are different vehicles for modifying the Constitution outlined within it, but in his retort said that the section of the Constitution dealing with that isn’t necessarily binding.

“The State denies that these requirements ‘must’ be met for a constitutional change to be considered an ‘amendment’ because the language of Article XXIII is permissive, not obligatory” [Joe Sneve, “Attorney General Asks Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit Challenging Legal Pot in South Dakota,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2020.12.04].

According to Sneve, Judge Klinger wants all arguments and motions from both parties by January 8. That one-month time frame is remarkable compared to the last time our one-party regime tried to overturn a popular initiative in court: back in 2016, Republican legislators filed suit before Thanksgiving to block freshly voter-approved Initiated Measure 22 from taking away their free dinners from lobbyists, obtained a preliminary injunction from Judge Mark Barnett by December 8, and won a complete suspension of IM 22 from the court by the Winter Solstice. Judge Klinger won’t even have all the arguments in hand from the state, the state, and Team Johnson/Seiler until after Epiphany.


  1. Bob Newland 2020-12-05 18:27

    I suspect that the outcome of this case will reside in the judge’s decision that there is no there there.

  2. Bob Newland 2020-12-05 18:28

    But, if I’m wrong, it will be because of Anslinger’s accurate observation that “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

  3. mike livingston 2020-12-05 19:59


  4. Bob Newland 2020-12-07 17:18

    I hereby apologize (with the reservation that I accept that what appears to be truth is true) to Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for ridiculing him within the context of a discussion of Amendment A. It does appear that the AG has asked the court to dismiss the ludicrous suit filed by PennCo Sheriff Thom and HiPo Supe Miller suggesting that the People of SoDak didn’t know what they were doing when they passed Amendment A.

  5. grudznick 2020-12-07 18:58

    Mr. Ravnsborg accepts your heartfelt apology, Bob, I am told. He’s indisposed at the moment.

  6. Bob Newland 2020-12-07 19:06

    It is likely that I will learn who you are, Grudzfecal. I look forward to peeing on your most treasured objects. You stood me up at a burger joint when I thought you were a human being. I now know otherwise.

  7. grudznick 2020-12-07 19:51

    No one knows, when he places a marijuana cigarette to his lips, whether he will become a joyous reveler in a musical heaven, a mad insensate, a calm philosopher, or a ravenous breakfaster…

    It is a shame Dale’s is closed or we could meet there for breakfast, Bob, and I could witness your doobie-stoked transformation as I have many times before.

  8. Bob Newland 2020-12-07 19:57

    The principal difference between me and grudzfecal is that it speaks with all the authority of a lying yellowstreaked naked mole rat.

  9. mike from iowa 2020-12-07 20:11

    He’s indisposed at the moment. More likely “distracted.”

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