State Attorneys General file support for Gov. Noem in Mount Rushmore firework lawsuit

The Governor will have the backing of seventeen state Attorneys General in her lawsuit against the federal government.
(South Dakota Dept. of Tourism)
Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 7:23 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - The Fourth of July fireworks display at Mount Rushmore cannot lawfully be blocked by a federal agency’s “erratic decision-making,” says Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

Schmidt put out a release Friday, announcing that he and 16 other state Attorneys General are filing a brief in the U.S. District Court for South Dakota in support of the lawsuit brought by Governor Kristi Noem against the U.S. Department of Interior, and Secretary Deb Haaland. Gov. Noem says that the state had a multi-year agreement with the Department of the Interior, and believes that the Biden Administration should uphold that agreement.

The lawsuit asks the court to block the federal agency’s decision to deny a permit for fireworks on July 3rd, and to ultimately allow for the event to move forward as planned for 2021.

“Given the importance of the Fourth of July holiday and the special role of Mount Rushmore as a national monument, states have an interest in seeing the fireworks display take place again this year,” Schmidt and the other Attorneys General wrote. “But in rejecting South Dakota’s permit, the Department of the Interior offered only the flimsiest of rationales, unsupported by any evidence or reasoned explanation.”

In denying South Dakota’s permit earlier this year, the Department of Interior raised concerns about crowds at the event during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the environmental impact of the fireworks on water quality and fire risk. Currently, the Black Hills are in a drought.

The announcement comes as the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe announced they would be joining legal arguments against Noem and the state of South Dakota. Representatives from the tribe say that they were not consulted in regards to the fireworks display, which the Noem administration says is false.

The attorneys general joining the brief include a number of high-profile names, including Ken Paxton of Texas, and Daniel Cameron of Kentucky.

Notably missing from the brief is South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who is still under investigation for his involvement in a September 2020 accident where he struck and killed Joe Boever of Highmore.

Noem took to Twitter to react to the brief Friday evening. “Derek Schmidt and 16 other Attorneys General are helping us fight the Biden Administration’s arbitrary and unlawful decision to block our Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration,” Noem said.

While there are currently no court dates set, Chief Judge Roberto Lange has indicated that he would like to have a decision made in this case by June 2nd of this year.