A federal appeals court has dismissed the latest appeal from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in her legal fight to hold a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day last year.
Noem sued the National Park Service after being denied a permit for the fireworks show, calling the decision “arbitrary and capricious,” and saying it violates the nondelegation doctrine – which says Congress can’t delegate its administrative powers.
The Eighth Circuit of Appeals ruled against Noem on multiple grounds, including that the issue was moot since the holiday was over a year ago.
Showing a bit of humor, the 3-judge panel wrote that “Time machines aside, to now order the Park Service to reconsider its decision to deny a permit for an event more than a year in the past would be the very definition of “[in]effectual relief. No matter what we decide, South Dakota cannot hold the event.”
The state argued it wasn’t a moot point since the deny-and-sue cycle is likely to happen again, to which the court said any future reasons the permit may be denied will likely be reasonable and different every time.
As for the nondelegation argument, the judges found the federal government was within its rights to deny the state from shooting off fireworks on federal land – writing “Nobody has a right to shoot off fireworks on someone else’s land, whether it be a neighbor; an area business; or as is the case here, a national park.”
Noem responded to the ruling by saying “President Biden should want to celebrate America’s birthday in a unifying way with fireworks at Mount Rushmore,” but instead “ran out the clock” to block both the show and any serious judicial review.
She also said she’s already submitted an application for a 2023 fireworks show and called on the National Park Service to grant it immediately.
The agency denied requests for both 2021 and 2022 on the same general grounds – environmental factors, fire hazards, water contamination, visitor safety, and objections from local Native American tribes.
South Dakota’s appeal was supported by 16 other states with Republican governors and attorneys general including Nebraska.