PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has set a schedule to consider the governor’s complex request for an official advisory opinion regarding legislative conflicts of interest.
The state’s high court wants briefs from each of the governor, the state attorney general and the Legislature filed no later than December 15.
In his order, Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Jensen said each brief shall cover the authority and argument regarding the governor’s request for the court’s advisory opinion on Article III, section 12 of the South Dakota Constitution.
The portion of the constitution that is in question reads, “…nor shall any member of the Legislature during the term for which he shall have been elected, or within one year thereafter, be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.”
Chief Justice Jensen wants the briefs to address how each of the nine questions raised in the governor’s October 20 letter “presents an important question of law involved in the Governor’s executive power or a ‘solemn occasion’ that invokes this Court’s original jurisdiction under Article V, section 5 of the South Dakota Constitution.”
A sentence in that section says, “The Governor has authority to require opinions of the Supreme Court upon important questions of law involved in the exercise of his executive power and upon solemn occasions.”
Governor Kristi Noem is waiting for the court’s direction before appointing a replacement for Jessica Castleberry.
The Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion three years ago, in answer to the governor’s request at that time, saying that legislators couldn’t contract directly or indirectly with state government for COVID-19 grants.
The current order from the Supreme Court says that the governor, attorney general and Legislature in their briefs shall also address the merits of each of the nine questions raised by the governor in her current request.
Chief Justice Jensen also ordered that any party claiming an interest in the current request shall submit a motion identifying that interest,, and give reasons why the brief will be helpful the court, no later than November 30.
The court’s order further stated that a decision on whether the court should hold a hearing on the matter would be made after the various briefs are received.