SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — The future of fireworks at Mount Rushmore is now in the hands of an appeals court.
Last year, Governor Kristi Noem decided to file a lawsuit claiming it was unconstitutional for the National Parks Service to deny South Dakota’s application for a July display.
A federal judge denied the lawsuit, and Noem appealed it. Wednesday, attorneys on both sides of the case had 15 minutes in front of a panel from the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals.
In July of 2020, the fireworks display lit up the sky over Mount Rushmore. It’s a sight Governor Kristi Noem would like to see every year.
When the state applied for a 2021 show, the permit was denied, which led to a lawsuit and eventually Wednesday’s hearing.
Noem’s attorney argued that permits should be granted based on research done in 2020 for that year’s fireworks show.
“It is the superintendent’s professional judgment that there is no impairment to park resources and values from implementation of the fireworks show” Jeffrey Harris, Noem’s attorney said.
One of the judges disagreed and said the Mount Rushmore case was moot.
“Isn’t every year a new slate, a new season? A new- whatever analogy you want to use? So this case is absolutely moot in every regard,” one of the judges said.
A judge also questioned how permits are approved or denied and wanted information on the deadlines. An attorney for the federal government responded.
“The agency is still taking this under consideration and looking at all the factors. There are a number of things that need to be considered and a number of people who need to be brought into the decision making process, which is the reason it took time the last time around.” Brian Springer, attorney of the federal government.
The judges also heard from an attorney for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.
Following today’s hearing, the judges will decide whether the case should move forward.