I went to court yesterday, said nothing dumb, didn’t torque off the judge (not noticeably, at least), and sat next to Marty Jackley without starting a fistfight. That felt like four wins right there.
In my first visit to a federal courtroom, suing to overturn an unconstitutional ban on out-of-state contributions to South Dakota ballot question committees, I sat in front of the bar with the following cast (as seated from right to left, as viewed by Judge Charles Kornmann):
- my lawyer, Jim Leach, who came to Rapid City over forty years ago to work for the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee, and now is representing my ballot question committee and myself in SD Voice and Cory Heidelberger v. Kristi Noem, Jason Ravnsborg, and Steve Barnett;
- myself, political blogger, educational technologist (happily burning a personal day from work for this legal excursion), ballot question activist;
- Marty Jackley, establishment Republican, former Attorney General, and frequent target of criticism on this blog, representing a host of mostly money-driven plaintiffs in a separate but equal lawsuit, South Dakota Newspaper Association, South Dakota Retailers Association, South Dakota Broadcasters Association, South Dakota Chamber Ballot Action Committee, Thomas Barnett, Jr., and Americans for Prosperity v. Steve Barnett and Jason Ravnsborg;
- Ryan Morrison, a Kentucky attorney from a Washington, D.C., conservative non-profit who said nothing during the proceedings save some eager whisperings to his co-counsel Jackley;
- Stacy Hegge, Assistant Attorney General, fellow proud SDSU grad, saddled with defending the state against my counsel and against the man who was her boss just five months ago;
- Kea Warne, director of the Division of Elections for the Secretary of State, dragged from Pierre to miss her high-school-senior son’s tennis matches (Ryan won all three of his singles and two of his three doubles).
Here’s what I saw and heard and thought.