Wednesday, October 30, 2019

South Dakota will pay ACLU attorneys' fees in "riot boosting" case

As Partner Attorney at Robins Kaplan LLP, Brendan Johnson, former US Attorney for the District of South Dakota and son of retired Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, helped the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union win the Constitution and Libertarian Parties' lawsuit against Republican former Secretary of State Shantel Krebs.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol today approved the settlement that says South Dakota won’t enforce current state laws that prohibit protected speech and are aimed at suppressing protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. Under the terms of the settlement, Gov. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will send a letter to the state’s attorneys in each county, telling them to direct law enforcement in their jurisdictions not to enforce the unconstitutional provisions of the laws. They also will compensate plaintiffs for attorneys’ fees. Brendan Johnson, partner with the Robins Kaplan law firm: “By equating peaceful organization and support of protest with ‘riot boosting’ and incitement to riot, the government stifled our clients’ abilities to speak out against the Keystone XL Pipeline. We’re happy that the state recognized that these vague and overbroad laws threatened the First Amendment rights of South Dakotans on every side of the issue and that, as a result of this settlement, no one’s voices will be silenced.” [ACLU South Dakota]
Republican Governor Kristi Noem's anti-civil rights actions are no accident. She's is a graduate of the Koch Brothers' American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, an anti-think tank think tank that teaches how wedge issues raise campaign dollars for the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. South Dakota's GOP legislators and candidates enjoy millions in lobbyist benefits from ALEC.

Johnson wants to reform South Dakota's tyrannical cannabis laws and is representing tribes in their suit against opioid manufacturers. Catherine Piersol, wife of Clinton-appointee Judge Lawrence Piersol who also heard Libertarian Party v. Krebs, is a longtime friend of the South Dakota Democratic Party and of the Johnson family.

It's widely believed Johnson is developing the resources necessary to enter the Democratic US Senate primary then run for the seat currently held by Mike Rounds, one of the least effective members of Congress. The red moocher state's junior senator was elected with cash from ALEC-backed National Federation of Independent Business.

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