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Supreme Court Delaying Amendment A Ruling Past Expected Enactment Date

The South Dakota Supreme Court is getting lazy. Instead of acting swiftly to review and rule on Amendment A, our Supremes are dragging their judicial feet and failing to render a decision before the scheduled July 1 enactment of marijuana constitutionalization that Judge Christina Klinger blocked last February:

According to Greg Sattizahn, State Court Administrator, the appeal related to Amendment A is under active consideration by the Supreme Court.

He confirms a decision will not be issued before July 1.

Until the Court issues an opinion, the ruling of the circuit court declaring Amendment A unconstitutional remains in effect [Karen Sherman, “Amendment A Ruling Not Expected Before July 1,” KELO-TV, 2021.06.24].

Come on, Supremes, pick up the pace! Judge Klinger heard arguments in court on January 27 and issued her ruling on February 8. That’s twelve days from hearing to ruling, and she’s working solo in Pierre. You five heard arguments over Amendment A on April 28. That’s 58 days ago. Even if we give each of you justices 12 days to work on the ruling and run those sentences consecutively, you all should have a ruling by this Sunday, which is a holiday, so I’ll give you until Monday, which is June 28, which is still two days before the amendment was scheduled to take effect.

South Dakota’s Judiciary needs to show more respect for the will of the voters. We asked for pot in our constitution. We voted with the expectation that our will would be made law on July 1. The Court should either uphold our will, reject the specious and anti-democratic arguments of the challengers of Amendment A, and declare that the measure reached the ballot by constitutional means, or they should dispose of Amendment A by upholding the Circuit Court ruling before the planned enactment date and maybe give its well-financed supporters time to compose, circulate, and resubmit new initiative petitions to revisit this issue on the 2022 ballot. Instead, the Supreme Court is using its silent delay to prevent South Dakotans from exercising self-governance.


  1. LCJ 2021-06-25 08:04

    This is probably one of the few times I agree with you 100%. Any attempt to curtail the voters will is an open willful choice to tear up the state constitution. The money spent to fight this must be paid back by the individuals who are pissing on the voters of SD. There are a lot more things law enforcement should be doing than filing frivolous lawsuits.

  2. John 2021-06-25 09:28

    Remember this and the justices at the upcoming judicial retention “elections”.

  3. RST Tribal Member 2021-06-25 10:03

    The bind: uphold SD Constitution or uphold their appointer party. Delay is the only play for the time being. Why did the voters do that to the party of the people’s government and the court of political opinion. Why cries American’s Governor. Oh, by the way she is running ads, like every couple minutes, telling us she is now working on regulations, processes and other stuff to get the medical weed on the street some time between July 1, 2021 and November 2022.

    Maybe, if the Supremes’ delay is long enough another initiative would run out of time and petition paper space before the next election. Who said justice isn’t political in SD? Probably the Republican Party.

  4. John Dale 2021-06-25 10:06

    Cannabis Consumers for Liberty is ready to put its proposal forward again.

    Governor Noem is calling for a better law/amendment. I agree with that.

    This one is weaponized and not really user focused in my view.

  5. Ryan 2021-06-25 11:26

    I want to give the Supremes credit. I don’t believe they have any nefarious reasons for the amount of time they are taking. I believe they each genuinely want to get this right. I have studied the issues and there is enough gray area in the legal authorities that it is not an open-and-shut decision. And, to be honest, the precedent they set with this decision will be huge for several reasons, because several of the issues raised have not been previously decided at our SC level – so this decision is about Amendment A, but it also about the future of similar potential challenges to other, unrelated laws. Their decisions are always released on Wednesdays. They send the decision to the attorneys on each side. Then, the next day (always Thursday) they release the opinions to the public. I hope to see the decision on this on Thursday, July 1. But, more important than the date, I hope they get it right.

  6. bearcreekbat 2021-06-25 11:53

    Ryan’s analysis of the Supreme Court Justices’ motives seems right on the money. The liklihood that any of these particular Justices would ignore or sidestep laws or appropriate legal steps in deciding the case to advance any political goal or cause ranges from slim to none.

  7. Jake 2021-06-25 12:00

    58 days I agree, should be enough. Enough is also the promise of jurisprudence by the Court to the people of this state. The norms of governmental expectations have been eroded way too far under the past 5 years of GOP federal influence and the 40 plus years of one-party government we have had in South Dakota. Expectations of “fair play” by a state Supreme Court is what binds society-they trample on that at their own and society’s peril.

  8. Ryan 2021-06-25 12:15

    Jake – it’s actually been a lot longer than 58 days. That’s how long it’s been since the oral arguments, but the Supreme Court had the briefs weeks before that. They knew the arguments, they knew of the authorities that already exist. In the legal world, 58 days is like 3 business days in any other industry. In fact, the decision they released yesterday related to a murder conviction came about 18 months after the oral arguments. Most opinions take a year or more. They work at their own speed because that is necessary for it to be done right. Now, I’m not saying they always get it right, but as soon as you put a deadline on an opinion, it adds an unnecessary consideration to an already multi-faceted conversation. And believe me – I am very anxiously awaiting this decision for personal and professional reasons, so I want them to hurry up too, but I understand why they aren’t, and I agree with them working on their own time.

  9. Whitless 2021-06-25 13:02

    Completely agree with Ryan and bearcreekbat. The issues in this case are many and complex. The decision could very well impact the initiative process, a bedrock of the South Dakota constitution. My preference is for the justices to take the needed time to analyze, debate and eventually agree on a majority decision. Don’t be surprised if the decision includes at least one concurring opinion as well a dissent. Also, in difficult cases, the majority decision is sometimes reassigned to a different justice which delays the issuance of a decision.

  10. grudznick 2021-06-25 13:12

    grudznick also agrees with Mr. Ryan.

  11. Porter Lansing 2021-06-25 13:18

    How long before John Dale’s weed garden gets a license?

  12. John Dale 2021-06-25 13:38

    Think of law as graphs of interdependent suppositions extending indefinitely in all directions. The ramifications of a law depends on the law, and in this case the extent of the potential for harm is great and the graph is enormous. It takes as much time as it takes to answer questions and address hypotheticals that may become weaponized or abused over time within the existing SD jurisprudence.

    Porter, thank you for the question. I don’t have a weed garden, but I would grow if I could, and I would be very good at it. I would cross White Widow with another pure Sativa strain as yet to be determined; 100% organic and not snoozy.

    It should be my right now, but I’m trying to be patient and law abiding as I see crime after crime committed all around us.

  13. Ryan 2021-06-25 13:52

    John, white widow is a hybrid, not a sativa. Plus, you could do waaayyy better. It’s 2021 not 2002. If you like old school strains, try a diesel… or try something new and trendy like duct tape or gorilla glue… MmmmWaa! But I will grow a few plants of the WW just because people know the name and it’ll be easy to sell based on name recognition alone, despite the fact that it’s 25% more expensive and less potent. Though it does look beautiful, and tastes like heaven…

  14. grudznick 2021-06-25 14:40

    If Mr. Dale had a weed garden, somebody would prolly run through it at night waving a drip torch.

  15. Kyle Krause 2021-06-25 15:02

    Cory, I have to disagree with you, and to agree with Ryan and Whitless. Many decisions with far lesser implications are taking our Supreme Court over a year to rule on right now. Less than two months would be a very fast turnaround. If the Court were dragging out their decision just to keep marijuana illegal for a bit longer, that would be inappropriate. I very much doubt that is the case though. I suspect instead that this is a high-priority case that will be decided far faster than most. This is a case of first impression that could have huge implications going forward for far more than just marijuana. It is FAR more important to do it right than to do it fast.

  16. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-25 15:21

    Well…much as I hate to say it, two months isn’t exceptionally long for a Supreme Court deliberation.

  17. kj trailer 2021-06-25 15:38

    The only “implications” this decision has are whether or not recreational pot should be legal as voted by SD citizens. The whole “too many subjects” horsecrap is hair-splitting idiocy by rightwing reactionary idiots like Noem. The decision should’ve been made that same week if not the same day. Thank goodness no one’s getting evicted or something because some justices have to make a yes or no decision into rocket frickin’ science.

  18. leslie 2021-06-25 16:11

    Whattayah think her flamethrower is for, among other things?

  19. leslie 2021-06-25 16:41

    According to WIKI and as most are aware:

    On Sept 26 Trump nominated his third SCOTUS justice to replace the indomitable liberal RBG (RIP 9.18.20). On October 26, the Senate voted to confirm Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with all but one member of the Republican Party voting in favor and all Democrats voting against; Barrett took the judicial oath on October 27.[2] Democrats rebuked Republicans, stating that they had violated a precedent they established in 2016 when they refused to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland more than nine months before the end of his term, and accused them of hypocrisy.[3] The 35 days between the nomination and the 2020 presidential election marked the shortest period of time between a nomination to the Supreme Court and an election in U.S. history.[4][note 1]

    Or; Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), was a decision of the United States Supreme Court on December 12, 2000, that settled a recount dispute in Florida’s 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. On December 8, the Florida Supreme Court had ordered a statewide recount of all undervotes, over 61,000 ballots that the vote tabulation machines had missed.

    Swift Republican Senate. Swift Republican Supremes. For billionaires.

    While swift Democratic democracy for the people: Impeachment’s 1 and 2.

    2. And, THE CARES Act,[2] is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 116th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020, in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.[3][4]

    Unprecedented in size and scope,[9] the legislation was the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history,[14] amounting to 10% of total U.S. gross domestic product.[15] The bill is larger than the $831 billion stimulus act passed in 2009 as part of the response to the Great Recession.[15]

    Lawmakers refer to the bill as “Phase 3” of Congress’s coronavirus response.[17][18] The first phase “was an $8.3 billion bill spurring coronavirus vaccine research and development” (the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020), which was enacted on March 6, 2020. The second phase was “an approximately $104 billion package largely focused on paid sick leave and unemployment benefits for workers and families” (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act), which was enacted on March 18, 2020.[17]

    An additional $900 billion in relief was attached to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was passed by Congress on December 21, 2020, and signed by President Trump on December 27, after some CARES Act programs being renewed had already expired.

    3. In March 2021, President Joe Biden and the 117th U.S. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package.

  20. LCJ 2021-06-25 16:58

    What the heck does that have to do with this subject, les?

  21. LCJ 2021-06-25 19:33

    Les, we were talking about an agricultural product that will be home grown and taxed as every other vice approved and taxed in SD I.e liquor, gambling, cigarettes etc.
    Sheesh, don’t be such a Debbie Downer
    LCJ will not indulge again until all of my “medicine “ is covered by Medicaid

  22. John Dale 2021-06-25 19:44

    Ryan read closely .. I want to bring that genetic line back closer Sativa .. it’s around 80% now, isn’t it?

    I tried WW in Amsterdam in the late 90’s. Was not disappointed, but anything indica is just too snoozy and this was no exception

    I may or may not have tried Willie’s Reserve Sativa last year. I may or may not have been very impressed.

    Seems like WW might be tuned for my mostly Scandinavian heritage .. or something.

    Was a very nice head change, and I could still drive, type, ride a bike, play music, carry on conversations, and I didn’t get into a fight.

  23. John Dale 2021-06-25 19:44

    “If Mr. Dale had a weed garden, somebody would prolly run through it at night waving a drip torch”

    I don’t know what makes a person say something like this .. grudz, I think your thinker is broken.

  24. grudznick 2021-06-25 21:21

    Mr. Dale, I know some of your neighbors there in SpearDitch. I’m just sayin…

  25. Porter Lansing 2021-06-25 21:42

    -I know grudz is going into the marijuana cultivtion industry.
    -Here’s the fees, where I live.
    -Who knows who you’ll have to bribe to get a foot in the door in a graft ridden state like SD?
    State fees:
    Retail Marijuana Cultivation $4,000
    Retail Marijuana Transporter (2-yr license) $4,900
    Retail Marijuana Operator $2,700
    Affiliated Interest (that is not an IBIO) $200 Commercially Reasonable Royalty Interest Holder w/more than 30% $400
    Commercially Reasonable Royalty Interest Holder w/less than or equal to 30% $200
    Permitted Economic Interest $400 Profit Sharing Plan Employee $200
    Qualified Limited Passive Investor – Limited Initial Background Check $75
    Qualified Limited Passive Investor – Full background for reasonable cause $125
    Qualified Institutional Investor $200
    Local fees:
    Retail Marijuana Cultivation $2,500
    Retail Marijuana Transporter (2-yr license) $500
    Retail Marijuana Operator $500
    Insurance requirements are similar to that of a standard (non-marijuana) business owner.

  26. grudznick 2021-06-25 22:06

    I tried it with some of the weed that my good friend Bob gave me. The salad was just not very good. I used a variety of styles of dressing and even ate one bowl with sausages like most salads have.

    grudznick does not see the future of the demon weed as being served in salads. I do not have the palate of the out-of-state-name-callers but golly. Don’t eat that weed, folks. It tastes nasty.

  27. leslie 2021-06-26 02:36


    Republican government only moves quickly, even if public welfare requires, to maintain its own power.

    OTOH, Democrats have an ethical approach to governing. Thus, repeating:

    “Swift Republican Senate. Swift Republican Supremes. For billionaires.

    While swift Democratic democracy for the people: Impeachment’s….

    2. And,…”

    In Bush v. Gore Supremes ruled in a month on a national election. Quick!

    Ryan might say they got it wrong. While the people voted for pot, Kristi, her AG and her court are:

    “Ruling Past Expected Enactment Date
    …getting lazy… dragging their judicial feet!”

    Republicans do it in Executive appointments, SCOTUS decisions, impeachments/investigation subpoenas, railroading pandemic agency action, stimulus packages, and the Americans Rescue Plan.

    But of course the same, current infrastructure stall in the Senate is being directed by Thune and boss McConnell which, granted, may “not have anything to do with this subject.”

    Government-wide corruption and obstruction, all on behalf of the 1%. Noem and Trump are both incompetent figureheads. Democrats now must spend extraordinary energy cleaning up this mess. VP Kamala Harris is expected to go down to the border amid all this other Republican drama and chaos and clean up Trump’s Big Republican Distraction Mess, too?

    Noem’s legislative unconstitutionalities and ignorance of science. Plug in EB5, Gear Up, Boever’s death, Rounds crony’s sidestepping subpeonas to win him the Senate, Daugaard’s sidestepping the EB5 debacle, Janklow’s countless unethical maneuvers.

    Come on, man! :)

  28. LCJ 2021-06-26 06:18

    Les, as usual you killed my buzz. Debbie Downer 2.0

  29. V 2021-06-26 07:28

    Surely if these justices deserve to be on the South Dakota Supreme Court, they know the importance of timing and expediency. In a state with a population of less than one million, what other case could be as important as this one right now when the enactment date is July 1, 2021.? The judges, like the rest of us, saw this coming so they should have already been mentally and legally prepared.

    If they want a raise in pay, they need to earn it. No tip in this case.

  30. John Dale 2021-06-26 07:57

    “Mr. Dale, I know some of your neighbors there in SpearDitch. I’m just sayin”

    Actually, you’re not saying much .. spell it out.

    The scene of folks falling all over themselves to own Spearfish is an indication of its coveted-ness.

    But the dynamics are certainly interesting at the moment.

    It’s tense.

    Because I think so many people are doing much worse than growing the devil’s lettuce.

    And now they’re worried?

  31. John Dale 2021-06-26 07:58

    V – the situation is changing rapidly – dynamic!

    The court wants to learn some things before proceeding.

    That defines conservatism.

    I’m good with true conservatism.

  32. Porter Lansing 2021-06-26 08:34

    God Blessed Indians

    Flandreau tribe hiring budtenders before medical marijuana becomes legal next month

    “The tribe’s goals for the development of cannabis is similar to other jurisdictions” according to the tribe’s news release. “It wants a safe product to produce revenue for tribal programs, to curtail black-market sales of cannabis, and to prevent illegal diversion, especially to children. The program that it developed does that, and also complies with the Department of Justice memoranda that were issued in 2013 and 2014.”

  33. Ryan 2021-06-26 08:57

    Porter, anything worth doing is worth paying for. Sd dept of health just posted draft rules for cannabis establishments. There will be some cost to getting started, sure, but it will be nice to throw these college degrees and button down shirts away in favor of something more wholesome like gardening.

  34. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-26 09:37

    John, what do you mean, ready to put your proposal forward? No one has a petition out or even in LRC’s hands for review.

  35. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-26 09:41

    Our election system depends on the courts being able to act swiftly. We expedite cases relating to petitions and challenges specifically to avoid thwarting the will of the voters. I opposed the Legislature’s delay of the implementation of ballot measures from a week after the election to July 1, but if that delay serves any purpose, it is to allow the courts to expedite their hearings and avoid hindering the implementation of the will of the voters.

    When I challenged IM 24 in court, the federal judge was able to take arguments, conduct a hearing, and render a verdict before the July 1 implementation date. The Supreme Court ought to be able to act with similar swiftness in service to the public. The Court’s unnecessary delay further burdens the people’s exercise of their initiative and referendum rights.

  36. Ryan 2021-06-26 09:50

    You make valid points, Cory. But just to be clear, they haven’t missed any dates yet. If they file the opinion next Wednesday, it’s prior to the planned July 1 effective date of the amendment. If nothing comes through next week, you’ll be right about the delay, although whether or not the delay is excusable is a different point.

  37. Porter Lansing 2021-06-26 10:26

    I saw those guidelines, Ryan. That’s why I’ve been contrasting your new regs with the same in CO. Ours have undergone tweaking for many years and possibly contain ideas and direction for SD.

    Are you planning on getting into the industry of cannabis, in SD?

    Or, just growing a few as a hobby?

  38. Jake 2021-06-26 10:35

    Ryan, seems you already excuse the state Supreme’s for not doing their timely duty, just like your ilk don’t call out the governor for her not doing her job instead of glad-handing seeking of national fame for a futile run for POTUS. We elect people, thinking they want the job to “DO” it, not “USE” it!

  39. Donald Pay 2021-06-26 12:06

    I think the hold up is over “single subject.” To wade into that issue is pretty complex and involves a lot of court meddling in what are legislative matters. It’s pretty clear that court cases take a pretty expansive view of “single subject.” Trying to mesh what a mess the Legislature has made of this issue is difficult. I supported a strict single subject definition most of the time, but sometimes you have to have legislation that meshes together statutes in different titles. The alternative is to have a hell of a lot of duplication in the code.

    We had two initiatives on mining in 1988, because we thought they might be two different subjects. One dealt with mining regulation and the other dealt with severance taxes, a cleanup fund and such. We thought about putting them all in one, but we got different interpretations of the single subject rule from different attorneys, legislators and LRC staff. No one really knows what is or is not a single subject, so we carried two petitions because it was safer against a court challenge that way.

  40. Porter Lansing 2021-06-26 12:30

    Single Subject rules are “get our ass outa’ a bind” cards used by MAGA legislators facing initiative and referendum measures that the public wants.

  41. Donald Pay 2021-06-26 13:25

    Porter, the “single subject rule” is a way to curb the kind of corruption that happens in the legislative process when multiple bills on different subjects are stuck together. Generally this is done to pass legislation that might not otherwise pass. It can be a formalized variation on “logrolling.”

  42. Ryan 2021-06-26 14:22

    Jake, they have not failed to fulfill any duty. Your expectations are not obligatory to them, whether you like it or not. They don’t need me or anyone else excusing them. And my ilk not calling out noem? Huh? You have no idea who I am or what my ilk is like haha I didn’t vote for noem. During her challenge to Amandment A, I wrote to noem, to kelo, to Argus, and to other journalists to complain about the double standards she is becoming famous for. You assume too much, and are often incorrect it seems.

  43. grudznick 2021-06-26 14:51

    Mr. H, you know they are dragging this out just to annoy the bleeding hearts, right?

  44. cibvet 2021-06-26 16:44

    Probably right out of their conservative “lag and drag” playbook. Pay us more and we’ll work harder or we will hold the will of the people hostage until these moronic legislators pass something so we can rule this unconstitutional.

  45. Porter Lansing 2021-06-26 17:28

    Right, Don. That’s how it’s designed to work. However, when passed bills are sent to a biased Supreme Court to eliminate them, using a trumped up “single subject” ruse, the process is worthless.

  46. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-26 18:46

    Mr. grudz–next time you eat that salad with the weed your friend Bob gave you, put the 14 minute version of “Suzie Q” by Creedance Clearwater Revival on your stereo. The salad will taste much better.

  47. bearcreekbat 2021-06-26 18:56

    I agree that a judge or Justice can, in fact, be biased (“prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair”). Indeed, Judge Roy Moore comes immediately to mind.

    Unless “bias” simply means that a judge makes a decision on a case I personally disgree with, or uses a process I personally object to, however, I am unaware of any objective evidence at all that indicates any of the Justices on the SD Supreme Court are in any way biased.

  48. Mark Anderson 2021-06-26 21:56

    Gosh grudz I didn’t know John Dale was a bleeding heart.

  49. Mark Anderson 2021-06-26 22:08

    You all know that meditation isn’t political and works for Dale’s head changes better than anything. You should all try it.

  50. Porter Lansing 2021-06-27 13:16

    In my opinion, the alienation decision was biased against women and literally allowed them to be treated like mere property.

  51. bearcreekbat 2021-06-27 16:25

    While this is a bit off Cory’s topic Porter, a close read of the case might convince you revise your opinion. Two of the issues – damages and causation have nothing to do with gender, rather, they raised a question of sufficiency of the evidence to meet those elements. The third issue, however, is right on point regarding your opinion, as the defendant raised essentially the same point arguing:

    Johnson argues that the tort of alienation of affections has become anachronistic from contemporary societal norms because it arose from the notion that a husband has a property right in his wife and is entitled to compensation for her loss. He argues that such an idea violates public policy in this State.

    The Court rejected that argument on three grounds:

    (1) in SD only the SD legislature has the legal authority to declare public policy. Here, by enacting a statute expressly authorizing such lawsuits, the legislature has decided the public policy of the state on this type of claim. The Court ruled that it must defer to the will of the legislature when it has declared SD public policy by the enactment of statutes.

    (2) the tort can be committed by alienating the affection of either gender, hence a female has the same right to sue as a male.

    (3) the Supreme Court has previously rejected nearly identical arguments in another decision in 1999.

    While one can reasonably deem the legislative choice to enact a cause of action for “alienation of affection” into SD statutory law to be biased, sexist or stupid, such a choice is still a legislative preogative so long as the staute does not conflict with other state stututes nor violate the State or Federal Constituions. In this case the defendant apparently made no such claim. It is unclear to me upon what factual basis there was in the opinion or decision to support a theory that any of the Justices demonstrated a bias against women.

  52. Porter Lansing 2021-06-27 17:32

    I believe the Justices demonstrated bias by not addressing the law’s violation of public policy.

  53. bearcreekbat 2021-06-28 00:56

    Under the commonly accepted definition of public policy a statute or law cannot violate public policy if the law doesn’t violate a Constitutional restriction nor conflict with other laws. See, e.g.:

    Public policy can be generally defined as a system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives.

    Perhaps a more accurate explanation for a conclusion that the Supreme Court Justices were biased is that they didn’t agree with the view that a court should reject the legislatively declared public policy of SD and adopt its own new judicial public policy prohibiting alienation of affection lawsuits.

  54. Porter Lansing 2021-06-28 10:09

    Thank you for your comments, BCB.

    I’ve followed your posts for a decade and know well where you sit and where you stand.

  55. bearcreekbat 2021-06-28 10:25

    Igualmente Porter.

  56. Porter Lansing 2021-06-28 10:28

    asimismo :)

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