The Republican-controlled South Dakota legislature rejected edits from the state’s GOP Gov. Kristi Noem Monday on a bill prohibiting biological males from participation in women’s sports.
Noem issued a “style and form” veto two weeks ago on the “Fairness in Women’s Sports” Act, effectively gutting the law with required changes that eliminate its application to institutions of higher education and erases avenues of legal action for girls in K-12 programs.
The state’s House of Representatives voted down Noem’s revised legislation 67-2, including several Democrats who joined Republicans to strike down the governor’s changes. What happens next remains unclear.
Some South Dakota Republicans and state constitutional scholars, including those at the American Principles Project, claim the proposed law will return to Noem’s desk for a final decision on whether to sign the bill as originally written or issue a straight veto.
The governor’s office, however, appears to take a different interpretation of the process outlined in state law.
Noem Communications Director Ian Fury wrote on Twitter the American Principles Project was “incorrect” to suggest the bill is sent back to the governor.
This is an incorrect reading of the South Dakota Constitution. https://t.co/9PWHpNQJgS
— Ian Fury (@IanTFury) March 29, 2021
Article 4, Section 4.
— Ian Fury (@IanTFury) March 29, 2021
South Dakota Republican Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch cites precedent to argue the South Dakota Constitution sends bills where style and form edits were rejected back to the governor.
According to your House Speaker, there is precedent for a governor certifying legislation when the legislature voted down "style and form" changes.https://t.co/50uCoCehr8
— American Principles 🇺🇸 (@approject) March 29, 2021
Fury did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment. Fury’s insistence the bill does not return to the executive shows the governor’s office is continuing to fight the legislation despite the fallout to arise from its initial rejection.
On Monday, a national coalition of leading conservative groups which operate both in and out of South Dakota sent the governor a letter calling on Noem to reverse course on her opposition to popular legislation that bars male participation in female sports. Noem continues to claim the bill as written would provoke a cascade of unwinnable litigation. Behind the scenes, woke corporate interests with vast influence in her office pushed for a veto over fear of economic retaliation.
“You’ve said you want to win, and we do, too,” signatories representing nearly a dozen national groups wrote. “More importantly, South Dakota female athletes also want the opportunity to win – no matter at what level of competition. This is why our coalition stands unapologetically behind these girls and women and won’t back down to pressure from the NCAA.”
Meanwhile, Republican governments in Idaho, Mississippi, and most recently Arkansas, have passed similar legislation.
While undergoing reputational damage control, Noem, who rose to nationwide prominence in the Republican Party for her adamant refusal to ever implement coronavirus lockdowns, launched a coalition to defend women’s sports. Such a coalition however, conservative groups wrote Monday, already exists, though Noem is found on the opposing side.
“You recently announced your intent to form a ‘coalition to defend Title IX’ in conjunction with your surprising decision to use a ‘style-and-form veto’ on HB 1217, a bill that would ensure South Dakotan K-12 and collegiate female athletes have a level playing field in theirs sports and that they have recourse against unfair policies that force them to compete against biological males,” the groups wrote. “We are already part of a large coalition defending female athletes across the country.”