ACLU Files Challenge To “Riot Boosting” Act

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A federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of South Dakota challenges three state laws, including the newly-enacted “Riot Boosting” Act.

Governor Kristi Noem signed that measure and another pipeline-related bill Wednesday afternoon; both immediately became law because of an emergency clause.

They are intended to protect state and local governments and third parties for law enforcement and similar costs, including if peaceful protests turn into riots.

SB 189 creates a mechanism to collect triple damages from any person convicted of riot boosting.  SB 190 establishes a fund to reimburse state and local governments for their costs on pipeline projects, with each project paying a $1 million bond for every 10 miles, up to $20 million. 

In a statement Wednesday, the governor said her pipeline package put freedoms of speech and assembly within the context of “clear expectations and the rule of law.”

The lawsuit asserts that the laws violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by limiting protected speech and failing to adequately describe what speech or conduct could subject protesters and organizations to criminal and civil penalties. 

“No one should have to fear the government coming after them for exercising their First Amendment rights,” Courtney Bowie, legal director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said in a news release. “That is exactly what the Constitution protects against, and why we’re taking these laws to court. Whatever one’s views on the pipeline, the laws threaten the First Amendment rights of South Dakotans on every side of the issue.”

Page 1 of ACLU Lawsuit
Page 1 of ACLU Lawsuit

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