Local News

Federal court stays out of SD abortion debate for now

todayJuly 8, 2024 2

share close

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A federal judge has said they will not get involved in the state lawsuit attempting to invalidate petition signatures to put abortion on the November ballot.

On June 18, Dakotans for Health filed a civil memo of support asking the federal court to enforce a previous ruling it said invalidates Life Defense Fund’s initial lawsuit from June 13. 

Judge Karen Schreier declined to issue an injunction against the state court action, which would prohibit Life Defense Fund from suing, saying it’s a discretionary power rarely used by the federal courts. 

TenHaken forms group against IM28, consumption tax question

“As a general rule, courts of equity, in the exercise of their discretionary powers, should refuse to interfere with or embarrass state court proceedings except in extraordinary cases where the threat of harm is severe or imminent,” the court documents say.

The issues and reason for the case stem from whether or not petition circulators are required to submit 30-day residency requirements or a residency affidavit, previously in South Dakota Codified Law 2-1-1.4.

According to the Dakotans for Health court documents, the federal court ruled in 2023 that Senate Bill 180, which revised the provisions regarding petition circulation, was unconstitutional. It argued that enforcing a residency and affidavit requirement for petition circulators violates the federal court’s own injunction and should be prohibited. 

Life Defense Fund is arguing that SB 180 would have replaced the residency requirement, but because it was overturned, SDCL 2-1-1.4 is still in effect, even though it says repealed on the South Dakota Legislative Research Council website. Life Defense Fund’s initial lawsuit claims Dakotans for Health didn’t meet the required signature count and shouldn’t be put on the November ballot.

The recent federal court documents say the federal courts will only interfere with state court actions in two circumstances: when a state court already issues a ruling contradicting a federal court order or when the state court litigation exists solely to undermine a previous federal holding. 

Because the state has not yet issued a ruling on the enforceability of SDCL 2-1-1.4 and “because the state court’s decision may not, in the end, undermine federal jurisdiction,” the federal court will not issue an injunction in response to Dakotans for Health. 

The court documents said the injunction is held in abeyance until the state court issues its ruling, which means it isn’t entirely thrown out. Judge Schreier did say in the court documents that the federal court will keep note of the state’s decision and whether it contradicts with any previous federal rulings.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

Rate it

Who we are

Rapid City, South Dakota’s only commercial free unedited internet rock radio station; playing a little older rock and mainly newer rock. A fully licensed stream.

This station is part of the Deep Dive Radio Network.


Our radio is always online!

Listen now completely free!

Give us your feedback!


If you like The Dam Rock Station, please consider making a donation. Your donation goes towards keeping the station commercial free, and helps with operating costs.

More Ways To Listen