Last week's high profile alienation of affection lawsuit against Pennington County State's Attorney Glenn Brenner has raised the ire of at least one prominent state lawmaker. Now, Sen. Stan Adelstein is hatching a plan to revisit the statute in the upcoming legislative session.
South Dakota is one of just a handful of states that allow alienation of affection lawsuits. Dating back to English common law, the statute provides for damages if one can prove that their spouse's affections were stolen by another.
"It's a terrible law because what it does are two things. One, it assumes that women have some sort of monetary value. And the other thing that is much more serious, it does terrible, terrible things to children," Adelstein said.
Senator Adelstein of Pennington County has fought to repeal the law twice during his time in the state legislature to no avail.
"Some individuals think that this law somehow dissuades individuals from having an affair. I've never known anyone who has fallen in love and figuring out that they might be sued. It doesn't work that way," Adelstein said.
After his first attempt to repeal the law fell through, Adelstein was successful in making the statute gender neutral, giving women the same access to the law as men.
"Even that didn't make much difference, but it pointed out the ridiculousness of it," Adelstein said.
Now, less than a week after the state's latest alienation of affection lawsuit, Adelstein believes that the law has to go and is in the process of submitting a bill to repeal it in the next legislative session.
"I think because of this such obvious damage that this will give me the best chance to get this law removed," Adelstein said.
The 2013 legislative session begins on January 8, 2013. Adelstein introduced legislation that would have repealed the statute in the 2012 session. But the bill was defeated by a Senate vote, which in a twist of irony was held on Valentines Day.