S.D. justices hear Amendment A argument

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Now comes the waiting for the South Dakota Supreme Court to decide whether voters changed the state constitution to allow marijuana use by people age 21 and older.

The five justices listened Wednesday to the sides argue whether the November 3 election result on Amendment A should count.

The state’s high court could rule before July 1. That’s when the ballot measure is supposed to take effect.

State Circuit Judge Christina Klinger declared in February that the election was invalid. The judge said Amendment A covered multiple subjects, violating the state constitution’s one-topic requirement.

The judge also said Amendment A was actually a constitutional revision that should have gone to a statewide constitutional convention and then to a special election.

Both of those points were at issue Wednesday.

Justice Janine Kern said she counted 15 subjects and 55 sub-subjects, as pointed out in the opponents’ brief.

Brendan Johnson, the Democrat who sponsored the amendment, told the justices, “Did we violate the single-subject rule? We (pause) did (pause) not.”

Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, had state Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller challenge the amendment in mid-November after the election result was certified.

Chief Justice Steven Jensen asked whether the challenge should have come before votes were cast.

Lisa Prostrollo, one of the lawyers for the governor, said the process was unclear before the election and the 2021 Legislature clarified it.

Prostrollo said a pre-election challenge would have been “a waste of judicial resources” if the amendment had later been defeated.

Johnson said the Supreme Court needs to make clear, “You can’t wait on the sideline.”

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