The Biden administration has canceled a Fourth of July fireworks show at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, but Gov. Kristi Noem says she is not done fighting, even though a federal judge has ruled in support of the National Park Service decision.
Chief Judge Roberto Lange, a Barack Obama appointee, handed down his ruling Wednesday. Gov. Noem had sued the Department of Interior in an effort to bring back the show after a ten-year hiatus, according to the Sioux City Journal. Last year, then-President Donald Trump allowed the fireworks show for the first time since 2009.
Noem, who appeared on Fox News Thursday, said she would appeal the court ruling. A Republican rising star. Noem asserted the Park Service’s permit denial is politically motivated.
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“The fact that we have a judge that stood beside this political, arbitrary decision that came out of the Biden White House is unfortunate,” Noem said. “But we do not quit. We keep fighting and this country is worth it.”
The Park Service cited health concerns related to COVID-19, plus the risk of wildfires and other “environmental concerns,” Fox News reported.
Noem’s response is blunt.
“To shut it down at this point, saying that there could be COVID concerns, fire concerns, environmental concerns, is just not honest,” Noem told Fox News. “We’ve addressed all their concerns. We had an agreement signed and then the National Park Service decided just not to issue us the permit. That’s why we went to court.”
There is another factor, according to the Journal newspaper. The fireworks effort reportedly “reignited legal skirmishing between her and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. They say the Black Hills, where Mount Rushmore is located, are “sacred to the Lakota people.” The tribe opposes the event.
Judge Lange’s ruling seemed sympathetic to Noem’s position.
“A fireworks display at Mount Rushmore on July 3, on first blush, seems like a good way to celebrate the Independence Day weekend,” he wrote in the first paragraph of the 36-page decision. “This country could use a good celebration of its foundational principles of democracy, liberty, and equal protection of law, after a pandemic that has disrupted society and business and has killed nearly 600,000 United States citizens to date, after an insurrection and physical incursion of the United States Capitol while Congress was convening to certify the outcome of the presidential election, and after this nation has become so sadly divided by the politicization of so many issues, likely to include even the outcome of this case.
“The United States would benefit immensely from greater unity in its efforts to continually form a more perfect union,” the judge continued. “So a national show of unity and celebration, such as a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore for Independence Day, is appealing. However, this Court is not called upon to determine whether such a fireworks display is a good idea. It would be improper judicial activism for this Court to disregard settled law establishing the arbitrary and capricious standard for review of the fireworks permit denial and to mandate issuance of such a permit. Accordingly, this Court must deny the requested injunctive relief in this case.”
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