SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An appeal by Governor Kristi Noem seeking relief from a decision that denied permission to have fireworks at Mount Rushmore has been denied by the Eighth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.
In a decision released Wednesday, Judge David Stras wrote South Dakota challenged both the first denial and the constitutionality of the permitting regime in federal court.
“We cannot change what happened last year and South Dakota has not shown that it would actually benefit from the elimination of the permitting regime,” Stras wrote. “So we vacate the district court’s judgment and dismiss the appeal.”
You can read the 8-page decision in this document.
The court decision said “nobody has a right to shoot off fireworks on someone else’s land, whether it be a neighbor; an area business; or as is the case here, a national park.”
The decision argued removing the permit process would make it harder, not easier, to have a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore.
South Dakota’s appeal was supported by 16 other states, including Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Noem has announced the South Dakota Department of Tourism submitted an application for fireworks at Mount Rushmore in 2023. In March 2022, the National Park Service cited “ample documented opposition” from Indian tribes to the 2020 fireworks event and said that opposition continues today.
A three-judge panel in St. Louis heard arguments on both sides of the case in January.
Noem’s office said a state contract with Virginia-based law firm Consovoy McCarthy in 2021 had a contract cap of $150,000. Funds would come from the state’s Extraordinary Litigation Fund, which at the time had a balance of $301,973.