Buffalo Chip city goes before the Supreme Court

Local News

A case before the South Dakota Supreme Court sounds more like a lesson in grammar than a court case.

At the heart of it is the validity of Buffalo Chip City and whether or not the words ‘and’ and ‘or’ mean the same thing.

The Buffalo Chip campground near Sturgis became incorporated into a municipality in 2015.

But some didn’t like it and fought in court and won to have the city dissolved, because they say the Buffalo Chip didn’t have enough residents.

At the time, the law read ‘No municipality shall be incorporated which contains less than 100 legal residents or less than thirty voters.’

“Sentence structure matters,” Buffalo Chip attorney Jack Heib said.

Heib, who is representing the Buffalo Chip, argued in front the the Supreme Court Monday that the Buffalo Chip either needed 100 residents or thirty voters, not both.

He says for instance.

“A nonprofit corporation is hosting a concert and they want people to bring donations, so no person will be admitted to the concert unless they bring a can of juice or two cans of canned goods, no one would read that and think I need both, in order to get into the concert

But attorney for the state, James Moore says in this case ‘and’ and ‘or’ mean the same thing.

“The best example of that is ‘no food or drink’ in the courtroom and you can look outside this courtroom, the sign says ‘no smoking, food, beverages allowed in the court and there’s no ‘and’ there, there’s no ‘or,’ but would it be reasonable to read that sign, and think, well I can smoke it in the courtroom as long as I don’t bring food and beverages into the courtroom, or can I bring food as long as I’m not smoking,” James Moore said.

“So what about the eligibility rule that read no person shall be enlisted in the Armed Forces, without a high school diploma or a general equivalent diploma, so, dramatically very similar to eligibility rule, you don’t have to have both, you just have to have one,” Justice Mark Salter said.

The Supreme Court Justices will make a ruling at a later date.

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