South Dakota Out-of-State Donor Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Federal judge throws out IM-24 in significant victory for free speech

May 9, 2019   •  By IFS Staff   •  
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Alexandria, VA – A federal judge has ruled unconstitutional South Dakota Initiated Measure 24, a state law which would have banned Americans from other states from contributing to ballot measure campaigns in South Dakota. The Institute for Free Speech and former South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley represented a coalition of trade associations, an advocacy group, and a former South Dakota resident in a challenge to the law.

“Today’s ruling is a big win for free speech. Government cannot ban speech simply because it dislikes who is speaking. South Dakotans have the right to hear messages from all Americans,” said Institute for Free Speech Legal Director Allen Dickerson.

Plaintiffs in the case include the South Dakota Newspaper Association, South Dakota Retailers Association, South Dakota Broadcasters Association, South Dakota Chamber Ballot Action Committee, Thomas Barnett, Jr., and Americans for Prosperity. The law was also challenged by SD Voice and Cory Heidelberger. The judge’s ruling applies to both cases.

The law was ruled unconstitutional under both the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

“The evidence presented in this case demonstrates how important out-of-state contributions are for the ballot question committees to pursue political speech. The State cannot enact restrictions that so completely prevent those pursuing unpopular laws from amassing the resources necessary for effective advocacy,” wrote Judge Charles B. Kornmann.

The state will now have the opportunity to appeal the ruling. The Institute for Free Speech is committed to ensuring that every American’s First Amendment right to free political speech is respected across the country.

To read the court’s ruling, click here. To read more about the case, click here.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

IFS Staff

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