A federal court on Wednesday denied South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s motion to hold a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore ahead of the Fourth of July after a monthslong fight.
Chief Judge Roberto Lange of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota concluded that a ruling in Noem’s favor would constitute “improper judicial activism” as he insisted it is not the legal body’s call to make.
“The United States would benefit immensely from greater unity in its efforts to continually form a more perfect union. So a national show of unity and celebration, such as a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore for Independence Day, is appealing,” Lange said in a decision obtained by the Washington Examiner. “However, this Court is not called upon to determine whether such a fireworks display is a good idea.”
Noem’s lawsuit, which names Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and National Park Service deputy director of operations Shawn Benge as some of the defendants, was filed after NPS denied the Republican governor’s request to hold the Independence Day weekend display. Noem filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration in late April after the administration chose to forgo the celebration, which was first held during the last year of former President Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office.
“The Biden Administration cancelled South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on completely arbitrary grounds,” Noem said in a Wednesday statement. “I am disappointed that the court gave cover to this unlawful action with today’s decision. But rest assured, this fight is not over. My legal team will appeal this incorrect decision so that we can return the Fireworks Celebration to Mount Rushmore and celebrate our nation’s birthday at America’s Shrine to Democracy for next year and in the future.”
The court’s decision followed intervention from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe that insisted judges lack the “subject matter jurisdiction and that the NPS’s denial of the permit is not subject to judicial review,” the lawsuit added.
At the time of the denial, NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost blamed the “risks” associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for the denial, though vaccination efforts were well underway. He also cited limited attendance requirements at the 2020 celebration, at which Trump delivered a speech, affected “tens of thousands” who could not visit the memorial or had their visit cut short.
Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event,” Frost wrote.
Last year, fireworks and Air Force jets provided a celebratory backdrop behind the iconic, stone-carved presidential figures in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Environmental concerns were dismissed following an NPS assessment.
Author : Jake Dima
Source : Washington Examiner : Court denies Kristi Noem’s request to hold firework show at Mount Rushmore