South Dakota and I are taking each other to federal court today. Judges Gruender, Erickson, and Kobes of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear via teleconference South Dakota’s head-scratching appeal and my cross-appeal of Judge Charles Kornmann’s mostly favorable, pro-democracy ruling in SD Voice v. Noem II, my challenge of South Dakota’s effort to quash ballot measures by forcing circulators to publicly register and wear badges and by setting an absurdly early, petition-submission deadline of twelve months before the election. The state is appealing Judge Kornmann’s overturning of 2019 House Bill 1094, the unconstitutional circulator registry and badge requirement that the Legislature itself repealed after Judge Kornmann’s ruling. Through my ballot question committee SD Voice, I’m appealing the judge’s apparent pocket veto of our challenge to the twelve-month petition deadline.
SDPB’s Victoria Wicks offers a brief on today’s case. I’ll be out earning a living when the judges get to work this morning, but my attorney, Jim Leach of Rapid City, will get on the phone and do a far better job of explaining the vital political rights and legal points at stake than either I or Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s minions can. The Eighth Circuit does post audio of oral arguments on its website, so by suppertime, I’m hoping to have audio we all can analyze of our fight for your right to petition your government and check the power of an arrogant one-party regime.
Update 17:43 CST: Whoo-hoo! The Circuit has posted the audio of today’s 30-minute oral argument in SD Voice v. Noem II. Listen now, and submit your analysis!
Excellent lawyering by Jim Leach. I think you will get the decision you want. Kornmann’s decision was mostly excellent, and it should stand, even though the legislature tried to repair the most egregious parts of the unconstitutional statute. I hope they remand back to Kornmann the undecided part. I have a question whether Kornmann will be as good and clear on that. He was, after all, a lobbyist for the nuclear waste dumpers and the mining association when we brought our initiatives against those two industries. He wasn’t too happy about us doing that at the time. He did favor tightening the requirements on initiatives. Still, he always seemed fair minded, if a little bit elitist. Whatever way Kornmann would go on that 5th point, I assume it will be appealed. Right? Could Kornmann just refuse to rule?