Quest for fireworks at Rushmore fizzles

Leslie Silverman

There will not be any Independence Day fireworks at Mount Rushmore this year, according to a recent ruling handed down by  U.S. District Court chief Judge Roberto Lange.
The decision denied the injunction Gov. Kristi Noem sought on behalf of the State of South Dakota.
“This court fully understands the state’s position and why this suit was brought, but under governing law, the state is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims and has not met the requirements for the sort of mandatory injunction or writ of mandamus sought,” the ruling states.
Lange referred to several of Noem’s claims in handing down his denial. Two of the most significant include the Congress’s delegation of authority to the National Park Service (NPS) and the arbitrary nature of Noem’s special use permit request.
“...The delegation to the NPS passes constitutional muster because it conveys Congress’s general policy that the NPS regulate the use of the national parks with the goals of conservation of the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wildlife in order to preserve them for future generations. Stated another way, there is an “intelligible principle” to guide the NPS in issuing special use permits...the NPS acknowledged the 2020 event in its letter and explained some of the problems that arose from having the event and how those issues factored into its decision.”
The denial of the injunction stresses that “a fireworks event carries some risk of unvaccinated and unmasked attendees spreading the virus, perchlorate levels increasing in drinking water, a wildfire, disruption of typical visitation to the memorial and damage to the relatively new concrete pour at the memorial. A fireworks event at the memorial does cause some harm to the federal-tribal relationship that has been frayed through the years,”  which in the long term “militiate it against it for at least this year.”
Noem’s reaction to the decision was vocalized on her Twitter page.
“The fight isn’t over. We’ll be appealing to return fireworks to Mount Rushmore in 2022 and in the future. The decision to cancel them was arbitrary and unlawful.”
Mount Rushmore will host Independence Day activities  including presidential reenactors and  music and stories from  Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member Sequoia Crosswhite.


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