Lawyers in South Dakota marijuana battle turn up heat against one another

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Attorneys fighting over Constitutional Amendment A, which would let people 21 and older use marijuana in South Dakota, are punching harder at each other in their latest round of arguments to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

How the justices rule in the coming weeks will determine whether South Dakota goes forward with legal marijuana for most adults, after 54% of voters marked yes on the November 3 ballot.

Governor Kristi Noem through her head of the state Highway Patrol, Colonel Rick Miller, is trying to stop Amendment A. Her private attorneys convinced a circuit judge to declare the election invalid, saying the amendment actually was a revision that should have gone to a state constitutional convention and that it improperly covered more than one subject.

One of the disputes is whether Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom had standing to bring the case.

“Colonel Miller’s interest in this lawsuit is not based on his status as a representative of constituent taxpayers; it is based upon the infringement of the constitutional duties and authority that would result from Amendment A diverting authority from the Highway Patrol to the Department of Revenue,” Christopher Sommers wrote for the governor’s side.

Sommers brought a new argument too for why Miller should have standing: “Given the impact that Amendment A could have on our state’s citizens and system of government, this case certainly presents a question of great public importance. A final decision from this Court will uphold the integrity of our Constitution and serve as guidance for citizen initiatives moving forward.”

Timothy Billion and Brendan Johnson, the amendment’s sponsor, appealed the circuit judge’s decision. Concluded Billion in the latest filing:

“Amendment A involves a single subject, and is not a constitutional revision. Longstanding judicial policy requires resolving all doubts in favor of preserving Amendment A. Miller and Thom’s speculations, implications and unfounded assertions fall short of showing a plain and palpable constitutional violation.

“The power to initiate constitutional amendments is a precious part of South Dakota’s democratic process. The result urged by Miller and Thom would severely restrict that fundamental right. This court should let stand the choice made by the voters of South Dakota.”

A date hasn’t been publicly announced for oral argument. Here are the respective filings released Tuesday:

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Continuing The Conversation
See Full Weather Forecast

Trending Stories

Don't Miss!

More Don't Miss