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Noem Enlists DC Lawyer Sekulow to Defend SD Abortion Restrictions

Because Jason Ravnsborg lacks the skill to do his job as Attorney General, Governor Kristi Noem has recruited D.C. lawyer Jay Sekulow, leader of the corrupt and theocratic American Center for Law and Justice, to save the state’s bacon as it defends its misogynist and unconstitutional abortion restrictions in court. Noem and Ravnsborg assure us that Sekulow is filling in for our incompetent A.G. for free:

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in a statement that he reached out to Sekulow for advice. Sekulow agreed to help with the case and Ravnsborg appointed him and his staff as Special Assistant Attorneys General.

Sekulow is working with staff from the American Center for Law & Justice, where he is lead counsel, according to Tim Bormann, spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General.

Sekulow is not charging the state for his services, according to Bormann and Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury.

The American Center for Law & Justice is nonprofit founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and in opposition to the American Civil Liberties Union [Arielle Zionts, “Trump Impeachment Attorney Representing SD in Planned Parenthood Appeal,” SDPB, 2021.09.15].

Of course, Jason Ravnsborg could do the job without costing us any extra money, either, since it’s his job to defend South Dakota in court. If our current Attorney General can’t do his job, for Pete’s sake, why not hire former (and likely future) Attorney General Marty Jackley to handle the state’s appeal? He was Attorney General when the forced-counseling legislation in question was enacted and originally enjoined in 2011. He handled the state’s original defense; with his files and knowledge of state law and precedent, he could probably whip up briefs for our appeal to the Eighth Circuit in half the time it’ll take Sekulow to figure out what’s happening in South Dakota.

But it appears the Noem Administration prefers to rely on celebrity and connections to the GOP’s golden idol instead of top-notch local talent. The well-heeled Sekulow often squawked on Fox News. Sekulow frequently formally defended the previous occupant of the White House, including at the tyrant’s first impeachment; Sekulow at least had the good sense to stay out of the second impeachment. Sekulow has recent experience defending government overreach: in his last performance before the United States Supreme Court, Sekulow defended schools’ policing of student speech outside of school. Sekulow lost that argument.

I suspect hiring Sekulow isn’t about improving South Dakota’s chances of winning this case. As in so many other actions, Noem is hiring Sekulow to boost her profile on Fox News and at Mar-a-Lago.


  1. Mark Anderson 2021-09-16

    Suckulow is doing it for free??? You mean he got rid of his mailbox where he received 65 million for his charity work? It was apart from his work for Trump of course. All pubs believe in raking in cash for being lying losers, why not work for making people into mothers. Those fake clinics can give them Ikea catalogs to plan their kitchens to match their bare feet.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-16

    Free? Oh, Mark, he’ll keep the attention of his patron at Mar-a-Lago, build his relationship with Noem, and increase his chances of being appointed Attorney General or Supreme Court Justice by whichever of those two becomes the next Republican President.

  3. jerry 2021-09-16

    I’m not sure which one of these two is the worst. Sekulow is now Clarence Darrow and Ravansborg, well he is a murderer.

  4. kurtz 2021-09-16

    Noem is hoeing in cash by the boxful so as meaningless as these lawsuits are the more money she squirrels away for herself. Recall Bill Janklow banked nearly a million in campaign funds just before he croaked.

  5. El Rayo X 2021-09-16

    With no pay, I hope as a Special Assistant Attorneys General, Jay Sekulow at least get a badge out of the deal. It’ll be great for picking up chicks. “Jay Sekulow, Special Assistant Attorneys General. This is my badge, go ahead and touch it if you want. By law, I have to buy you ladies some drinks.” Who needs a wing man? Not Jay.

  6. Guy 2021-09-16

    Another reason I don’t think the Democrats are at all confident they can take on Noem next year. I did a little archival research on your blog, Cory. Billie Sutton declared his run for Governor in May of 2017 (according to the date of your post). Suttons declaration to run for Governor was 8 months before candidates can officially file for office in February of the election year. Sutton did not even wait for Labor Day of 2017, he announced his run 4 months before September of 2017. If you claim it was to “get his name out there”…the Democrats are very late with that strategy this time around.

  7. DaveFN 2021-09-16

    Noem is a shoe-in for anyone who is a Messianic Judaism convert. Part and parcel of the Christian fundamentalist mentality.

  8. ArloBlundt 2021-09-16

    well.Dave, you are correct…the Governor is known to attend the Four Square Pentacostal Church in Watertown. It is a national denomination founded in the 1920’s by Faith Healer Aimee Semple McPherson (look her up especially is you believe in reincanation.)

  9. Guy 2021-09-17

    Dave, she’s going to be a “shoe-in” since the Democrats have no candidate to run against her.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-17

    [Guy, your comment appears completely irrelevant to the discussion of Noem’s recruitment of Sekulow to handle this appeal. Can you connect the issues?]

  11. jerry 2021-09-17

    I think Sekulow sought out NOem because he hopes South Dakota will not extradite him for his part in the insurrection and treason in general.

  12. DaveFN 2021-09-17


    If what you say is true, it is as I’ve suspected, right in line with Cory’s suggestion of the theocratic nature of the Noem/Sekulow alliance.

    My guess is that Noem also is a believer in the fundamentalist “Prosperity Gospel.” You know, it’s the kind that says “My heavenly father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and so should I.” Noem thinks God ‘wants’ that she have a jet, wants her to have a gigantic monstrosity of a desk, wants her to save the unborn, wants her to condemn “the demon weed,” wants her to travel around the country on someone else’s dime. Believer privilege and the others be damned–which in fact according to fundamentalism they are.

    Bonhoeffer wrote about his religious conversion of sorts he had in 1931 but seems to have downplayed it in his later writings. More and more he came to mention the “religious enthusiasts” with condemnation. I can but imagine that these “enthusiasts” were the fundamentalists of his times who no doubt were flocking around Hitler, no different that we saw with them doing with Trump, laying on of hands, praying around him, etc. Basically shoring up their own egos and that of their chosen “savior” as were many of Trump’s followers.

    Whether Christian, Islamic or you-name-it, the idea that one has some corner on the truth and that others are blind and damned to eternal hell has got to influence every nook and cranny of one’s weltungschaung, be it religious, political, economic, environmental, legal…

    I speak from some experience as there was a time in my own life I was engaged in similar that lasted about three years. Until, that is, I came across Bonhoeffer whose writings came on the American market in the mid-70s and made me gradually come to realize that, as per J.B Phillips’ 1953 book title says, “Your God is Too Small.”

    Fundamentalism is too small and constrained in its doctrines and is simply not up to the challenges of reality. Rather than knowing the truth it runs from it as far as I’m concerned. I suggest we’ve seen that in Noem.

  13. Porter Lansing 2021-09-17

    As a boy, I’d spend summers on farms because my Mom worked and it was big fun, for me.

    One summer the people I stayed with, in Hazel, took me every Sunday to The Four Square Pentacostal Church, in Watertown.

    The nickname “holy rollers” is pretty accurate, as parishioners often roll on the floor and speak in tongues.

    As a nine year old, those church Sundays are something unique I’ll not forget.

  14. Guy 2021-09-17

    Cory, you ended this article saying: “I suspect hiring Sekulow isn’t about improving South Dakota’s chances of winning this case. As in so many other actions, Noem is hiring Sekulow to boost her profile on Fox News and at Mar-a-Lago.” BINGO! With Kristi Noem it is ALL A SHOW and that is ALL it is. Compared to Kristi Noem, at least Stephanie Herseth was grounded in her governing. Herseth was more than just a pretty face. Stephanie was honest, intelligent, hard-working and pushed substantive legislation. With Kristi, all you get is a pretty face and we’re all left with an EMPTY bag.

  15. mike from iowa 2021-09-18

    Kristi Noem won’t mandate masks in South Dakota schools — but she wants to make students pray

    You heathen Northern Mississipians aren’t close to dog, not enough to suit her highness.

  16. jerry 2021-09-18

    “EMPTY bag” describes NOem perfectly. Well done.

  17. Mark Anderson 2021-09-18

    Well, you might as well give up folks, Noem is representing the almighty over the constitution. What can you say, turn the other cheek? Really I truly believe her God is on my side, but thats another issue.

  18. Guy Gregory 2021-09-18

    Mark it isn’t over yet. If Billie Sutton runs again -and he’s very serious – he’ll find a way to pull the Common Joe’s away from the allure of the hypnotizing “Golden Goddess” of Kristi Noem…the “Siren of South Dakota”. Billie can relate to the Common Joe and if he’s smart he can get them to relate to him. He can show she’s nothing but a pretty face with nothing to offer for rural and urban South Dakotans.

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-19

    I would like whoever runs against Noem in 2022 to remember that the majority of Common Joes in South Dakota have twice turned back draconian abortion restrictions and to have the courage to remind voters that Noem doesn’t really represent their practical policy values with respect to women’s rights.

  20. mike from iowa 2021-09-21

    Good article, Chris. Thanks for posting the link.

  21. bearcreekbat 2021-10-12

    mfi, Sewer nails it. Thanks for the link.

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