Last year’s Independence Day fireworks display at Mount Rushmore was a big success, with 7,500 attending to watch the patriotic display, as well as to see Gov. Kristi Noem and President Trump speak during the event. And contra to the predictions from various hypocritical naysayers in the media and on the left, the festivities did not turn out to be a coronavirus super-spreader event.
But this year may be a different story. Noem has been battling with the Biden administration for several weeks now in an effort to get the National Parks Service to approve permits for the event, and those efforts ramped up after the NPS formally rejected their request for permits last month on grounds that possible wildfires could occur as a result, because certain Native American tribes in the state allegedly opposed the display, and due to COVID concerns.
Because the Biden administration has failed to respond to her appeal of the NPS’ decision, Noem officially filed a lawsuit today in federal court seeking to get the matter rectified ASAP:
“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday and all that makes our country special,” Noem wrote. “After telling us they’d ‘circle back,’ the Biden Administration has not responded to our request to uphold the Memorandum Agreement between the State of South Dakota and the National Parks Service to host a safe and responsible national celebration and fireworks show.”
Noem said the Biden administration has “departed from longstanding precedent and reneged on this agreement without any meaningful explanation.”
“We are asking the court to enjoin the Department of Interior’s (DOI) denial of the fireworks permit and order it to issue a permit for the event expeditiously,” she added.
As to that 2019 Memorandum of Agreement Noem mentioned in her lawsuit, it allowed for fireworks to return to Mount Rushmore in 2020 after a 10-year absence, provided they were conducted “in a safe and responsible manner.” Checklists were to be met, as well to ensure safety measures would be in place.
Noem appeared on Neil Cavuto’s program earlier today and talked about the lawsuit. During the interview, she said that her team had consulted with various tribes in South Dakota and that the state has “met all the environmental checklists,” and had “the go/no go checklists agreed to.” She described the Biden administration’s denial of the permits as “a very partisan and political denial of our right to host this fireworks event.”
If what Noem says is true about the environmental checklists being met and the local tribes (presumably) being in agreement that they should proceed, that would mean the only reason left for the Biden administration to hang their hat on would be fears of a potential COVID outbreak.
But I would think Noem has a case for getting the courts to overrule Biden on that, if for no other reason than on First Amendment grounds. People go to these displays to express their love and support for their country. If exceptions to COVID restrictions can be made for Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on First Amendment grounds, they should be made in this instance as well. Also, the risk of catching COVID outside is much smaller than it is from mass gatherings indoors.
We’ll keep you updated on developments in this case. Stay tuned.
Flashback: Gov. Kristi Noem Shuts Down CBS News Over ‘Misleading’ Report on South Dakota COVID Cases
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