Federal judge rejects efforts by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to force National Park Service to allow Mount Rushmore fireworks
SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) – A federal judge on Wednesday rejected efforts by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to force the National Park Service to allow the state to shoot fireworks from the Mount National Memorial. Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day this year.
Noem sued the US Department of the Interior in an attempt to overturn the decision to deny state permission for the fireworks display. The Donald Trump-aligned Republican governor successfully pushed for the event to return after a ten-year hiatus last year. But the National Park Service denied it this year, citing safety concerns including the risk of fire and objections from local Native American tribes.
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Chief Justice Roberto Lange’s notice and order of the Federal District Court for South Dakota meant the night sky over Mount Rushmore would be devoid of state fireworks on Independence Day this year.
Noem called the decision to deny the fireworks permit “policy.” She told Fox News that an absence of fireworks at Mount Rushmore would represent the fulfillment of a “radical left” rejection of patriotic celebration and called the decision arbitrary.
Last year’s event gave Donald Trump the opportunity to deliver a fiery election year speech with the monument as a backdrop. The state had signed an agreement with the federal government under Trump to work on staging the fireworks this year.
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However, Noem’s trial also reignited legal skirmishes between his administration and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, who opposed the event on the grounds that the Black Hills, which contain Mount Rushmore, are sacred to the people. Lakota.
In a statement responding to the judge’s ruling, Noem blamed President Joe Biden’s administration for canceling the fireworks, saying it was “for completely arbitrary reasons.”
“But rest assured, this fight is not over,” she said, vowing to appeal the decision with the aim of restoring the event next year.
In a 36-page notice and ordinance, Lange, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote that he liked the idea of having a fireworks display to celebrate Independence Day, but refused to order the National Park Service to allow it because it would “be inappropriate judicial activism for this court to ignore established law” about how federal agencies are authorized to make decisions.
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Lange wrote: “This country could use a good celebration of its fundamental tenets of democracy, freedom and equal protection of the law, after a pandemic that has disrupted society and business and killed nearly 600,000 American citizens in this day, after an insurgency and physical incursion from the United States Capitol as Congress convened to certify the outcome of the presidential election, and after this nation became so sadly divided by the politicization of so many issues, likely to even include the outcome of this case. “
MarketWatch has contributed to this.