ACLU, South Dakota head to court over Keystone XL pipeline protest law

The constitutionality of South Dakota’s protest laws will be argued in a Rapid City courtroom on Wednesday.

Arguments in the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against Gov. Kristi Noem, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Rapid City.

The ACLU is challenging South Dakota’s new law allowing the state to sue any person or organization for “riot boosting” or encouraging a protest where acts of violence occur, and the state’s two existing criminal riot laws on which the riot boosting law is based.

The riot boosting law, which the South Dakota Legislature passed within 72 hours of Noem announcing it during the final full week of session, was aimed at Keystone XL pipeline protesters. The laws target protected speech, are written too broadly and fail to clearly define the behaviors and speech that are prohibited, according to the lawsuit.