ACLU of South Dakota challenging SB 189 in federal court

Published: Mar. 28, 2019 at 3:05 PM CDT
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The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota has filed a federal lawsuit challenging three South Dakota laws, including the newly-enacted SD 189.

ACLU officials said “Riot Boosting” Act threaten activists who encourage or organize protests, particularly protests of the Keystone XL pipeline, with fines, civil liabilities, and/or criminal penalties. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the District of South Dakota on behalf of four organizations: the Sierra Club, NDN Collective, Dakota Rural Action, and the Indigenous Environmental Network; and two individuals.

“No one should have to fear the government coming after them for exercising their First Amendment rights,” said Courtney Bowie, legal director of the ACLU of South Dakota. “That is exactly what the Constitution protects against, and why we’re taking these laws to court. Whatever one’s views on the pipeline, the laws threaten the First Amendment rights of South Dakotans on every side of the issue.”

According to ACLU's press release, the organization argues the lawsuit asserts that the laws violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by chilling protected speech and failing to adequately describe what speech or conduct could subject protesters and organizations to criminal and civil penalties. Because the challenged laws expose the plaintiffs to immediate and irreparable harm, the plaintiffs are asking the court to immediately prohibit the state from enforcing these laws as the case goes forward.

Gov. Kristi Noem signed pipeline bill package Wednesday. The law was signed to ensure safety and efficiency of the Keystone pipeline construction. The law also creates a fund for the coordination of law enforcement expenditures. It also creates an additional fund to pursue out of state money fueling violent protests that aim to shutdown the build.