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.