South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has been in all-out damage control mode this week, trying to contain criticism of her preference for launching an online petition rather than signing a law protecting female sports from male competitors. It’s been shocking to see that a Republican governor paid half a million bucks to an advisor who also lobbies for a child-mutilating hospital conglomerate and is now trying to publicly cast her refusal to sign a female-protection bill as both principled and pragmatic.
She and her communications team have made a number of claims about her position, most of them based on slogans and smears rather than substance. For example, Noem and her team immediately pivoted to arguing that any criticism or questions about her stance comprises “cancel culture.” Cancel culture is when private individuals lose jobs, personal safety, and relationships over their resistance to leftist identity politics and sexual anarchy, not when public officials enable cultural Marxism and their voters find out.
It is not “cancel culture” for voters to consider politicians’ policies and actions when deciding whether to support those politicians. It’s rational self-government. Nobody is calling for Noem to be harassed at her home or targeting her children, only assessing her professional fulfillment of her public duties. To deliberately muddle these two while throwing a temper tantrum is a disgrace to her character and another black mark on her handling of this issue.
Disagreement on policy or approach isn’t cancellation. She’s not been removed from office or banned from anywhere. Doesn’t make a lot of sense for Noem or her advisers to use this line of defense here. https://t.co/dOEeo8ig7U
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) March 24, 2021
That Noem and her team are resorting to such shamefully duplicitous rhetorical attacks indicates they are unable to defend the substance of her decision. That seems to be the only plausible explanation for why they are consistently refusing to engage with substantive questions about her choice, including but not limited to the following.
Does the governor have any substantive response to the arguments from religious liberty law firm Alliance Defending Freedom and others about why her characterizations of this bill’s consequences are wrong?
Why didn’t Noem work with state GOP lawmakers to address the problems she alleges of this bill before it was passed to her desk, as would be normal in a state entirely controlled by the GOP?
Which “legal scholars” advised Noem to refuse to sign this bill? What was their exact advice and reasoning? The Federalist has asked Noem’s team this question and so far they have refused to say.
Considering that this is public business, the public has a right to know who is influencing it. So what is the exact reason Noem’s office can’t release the names of legal experts consulting on public business with a public official?
Ok her office is doubling down on these legal consultants. Now they are “renowned”— who are they???
— Andrew Kloster (@ARKloster) March 24, 2021
Who else influenced Noem’s decision on this bill? Does it include her taxpayer-compensated “top advisor,” Matt McCaulley, who is also a lobbyist for a massive hospital chain that performs transgender child mutilation?
Does it include her chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, who also sits on the board of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, which also strongly opposed the bill in question?
Venhuizen was also chief of staff to former South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who infamously vetoed a bill that would have protected naked girls from showering with males at school. In between, Venhuizen worked as a partner in McCaulley’s law firm. What part did these two advisors play in Noem’s decision on this bill, and why is it ethical for McCaulley to advise her on issues that affect the financial interests of his other clients?
Did Noem seek counsel from conservative legal scholars with alternate views, especially with views and strategies that would make it possible to seek to protect girls from competition from males on sports fields? We know they exist.
What persuaded Noem that the defeatist “legal scholars” were correct and the “let’s at least try to win this one” “legal scholars” were wrong?
Did the NCAA directly threaten South Dakota with lawsuits, as Noem has claimed? Could we see the proof of that?
In other states that have passed this law — Idaho and Mississippi — have we seen any lawsuits at all like in this scenario Noem described to Tucker Carlson Monday: “If a child doesn’t make a team they up to a year later can come back and sue every member of that team and the K-12 system and the entire school district as well, and continue suing”?
Does Noem think that every time a lawsuit (or several) might follow South Dakota passing a law, that law should not be passed? What is her threshold for whether to pass such a potentially legally contentious law?
Some 30 states are considering laws similar to the one Noem just vetoed. Is it her position that instead of passing these laws, they should join her in signing a petition instead? How does that more effectively protect and defend in daily American life the reality that the two sexes exist and have meaningful differences?
Here’s two from Daily Signal reporter Kelsey Bolar: “Why was Idaho @GovernorLittle willing to risk lawsuits to protect girls’ sports, but not Noem? And by not signing the bill, isn’t Noem actually HALTING the very momentum she claims we need?”
— Kelsey Bolar (Harkness) (@kelseybolar) March 24, 2021
If states should not pass laws that won’t get past activist judges including, of all people, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who famously capitulated on this issue and Noem is also using as a shield for her decision, is there no legal remedy available in this country any more to people who affirm the reality that two human sexes exist and have meaningfully different needs in certain contexts?
If the answer to the previous question is yes, or mostly or often yes, doesn’t this undercut the major Republican Party pitch to voters over the past half-century that a significant reason to vote Republican is to get sane judges who don’t rewrite laws and human reality itself?
Independent Women’s Forum senior policy analyst Inez Feltscher asks: What exactly is the point of the push for conservative judges as a high priority if our elected officials cave at the mere threat of a lawsuit?
If Republican politicians cannot enact any laws that the craziest judge says they can’t, what’s the point of electing Republican politicians in the first place — solely so they can pick a few non-crappy judges who will be overruled eventually by crappy ones? Since this has obviously not worked so well because we’re in this position right now, what else are people who acknowledge sexual sanity supposed to do? Sign petitions? How is that supposed to be more effective than passing laws?
Is Noem’s position that our country is in such dire straights that the only possible response left to people who make money cutting off children’s penises and breasts is an online petition — or toothless laws that have no enforcement mechanism?
If Noem and her office answer substantive questions like these with substantive answers, it will bolster her claims of aiming to truly “protect girls” with her political decisions. If they continue to attack their own voters and political team by insinuating questions like this are offensive to even ask, it seems pretty clear they aren’t engaging on substance because they simply can’t.