Noem: Pot amendment violated S.D. constitution

Capitol News Bureau

House Speaker Steve Haugaard (L) and Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden (R) welcome Governor Kristi Noem before a joint session of the state legislature today in Pierre. Photo by Patrick Callahan, 2020.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order Friday saying the South Dakota Constitution doesn’t allow the recreational marijuana amendment that voters approved.

She cited the governor’s authority under section 3 of the constitution’s executive branch article.

The key sentence reads: “The Governor shall be responsible for the faithful execution of the law. He may, by appropriate action or proceeding brought in the name of the state, enforce compliance with any constitutional or legislative mandate, or restrain violation of any constitutional or legislative power, duty or right by any officer, department or agency of the state or any of its civil divisions. This authority shall not authorize any action or proceedings against the Legislature.”

Noem confirmed in the order that she directed South Dakota Highway Patrol superintendent Rick Miller to challenge the validity of the amendment. Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom also is a challenger. Circuit Judge Christina Klinger has scheduled a hearing January 27. Noem appointed Klinger in 2019.

The challenge contends that Amendment A was a constitutional revision that should have required a constitutional convention and a special election. The lawsuit also argues that the measure broke the state constitution’s single-subject rule that voters adopted in 2016.

Noem’s executive order cites a state law that says in part, “No action shall be dismissed on the ground that it is not prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest until a reasonable time has been allowed after objection for ratification of commencement of the action by, or joinder or substitution of, the real party in interest; and such ratification, joinder, or substitution shall have the same effect as if the action had been commenced in the name of the real party in interest.”

By issuing the order, Noem revealed she was behind the lawsuit. The governor is challenging the pro-marijuana side as well as another Republican state official.

“The Court should reject this undemocratic attempt to disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans who voted in favor of Amendment A,” lawyer Brendan Johnson of Sioux Falls, who sponsored the amendment, said at the start of his side’s 34-page counterpoint.

The state attorney general’s office is defending the amendment as well as South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett’s decision to put it on the ballot. Grant Flynn, an assistant attorney general, said none of it was illegal.

Friday was the deadline for the sides to file replies in the case.

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