Mark Mickelson ready to fight for constitutionality of proposed ballot measure

Republican Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson is ready to fight to defend his ballot measure to outlaw out-of-state political money from the ballot measure process.

And he isn’t mincing many words about it in the inaugural post by the Rapid City Journal in a new political feature/podcast they’re calling “Mount Podmore”:

Mark Mickelson wants to keep out-of-state money away from South Dakota ballot questions, and if you think that’s unconstitutional, he’s ready to debate.

“I am sick and tired of reading some knothead from some political group that doesn’t have a law degree presupposing he knows constitutional law and asserting something that’s in his own self-interest,” he said.

The Harvard Law School alumnus also volunteered to be deputized by the state attorney general to defend the ban in the event of a court challenge.


Critics have said Mickelson’s proposed ban would be challenged and held unconstitutional by the courts as an illegal restraint on political free speech. In June, Paul S. Ryan, a vice president at the Washington watchdog group Common Cause, told The Associated Press that the chances of Mickelson’s initiative passing constitutional muster would be “slim to none.”

And South Dakota’s Legislative Research Council, in its legally required review of Mickelson’s proposed initiative, said that although the U.S. Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issue, the court has viewed limits on contributions to ballot-question committees as a restraint on the rights of association and free speech.

Read and listen to it all here.

33 Replies to “Mark Mickelson ready to fight for constitutionality of proposed ballot measure”

  1. Anonymous

    The guy is a stud.

    Where was this mickelson on the campaign trail when he was running for governor? I like this version best!

    1. Anonymous

      More like a dud. Thankfully, he isn’t running for Governor. I liked him a lot more before. This version lacks class.

  2. Anonymous

    Funny that he used to hide his Harvard Law degree in his campaign literature by saying he went to Law school out east. Now he thinks it helps him? Not so sure about that.

  3. Anonymous

    Still no on everything…i like the concept but it is unconstitutional…plus we have worse measures to fight and should concentrate our efforts on defeating Amendment version of IM22 and the liberals who are pushing it.

  4. Springer

    Maybe he is just emulating another Harvard law grad who didn’t seem to understand or care about the constitutionality of his policies either.

  5. Anonymous

    I heard the pro marijuana and pro assisted suicide circulators are working with him on the petitions. You are known by the company you keep.

    1. Michael Wyland

      What I’ve heard is that he started out trying to get signatures using volunteer circulators, but the pace was far too slow to meet the deadline, so he’s now sharing paid circulators soliciting signatures for other petitions.

        1. Michael Wyland

          Perhaps, and perhaps not. The error rate varies widely, so petition circulators often seek to get as many signatures as possible in expectation that they’ll get enough good signatures to overcome the disqualifying ones.

          I remember a former GOP legislator who set up in a cafe and allowed all comers to sign his petitions, regardless of party or residence. His rationale was that he was promoting his candidacy and signers could call themselves supporters to their friends. If he said “no” to anyone, they’d remember the “no” as a negative experience, regardless of the reason, and associate that negative with the candidate.

      1. Kelly Lieberg

        So the passion is in the collection of signatures ? That would be against the spirit of the initiative process. An engaged electorate.

  6. Anonymous

    Does Mickelson actually believe that the only people who can understand the Constitution are Harvard law school graduates? That is not only grossly egotistical. It is scary.

    Besides, the fact that a judge in Alaska ruled a similar law constitutional does not make it constitutional. Even the Supreme Court justices have reversed their previous rulings on numerous occasions because they incorrectly ruled things unconstitutional that were constitutional and vice versa.

  7. Anonymous

    Ever since he started this initiative campaign his public comments have been shallow and arrogant. He doesn’t like being challenged and doesn’t respond diplomatically. It’s sad.

  8. Anonymous

    The comments here illustrate just what an echo chamber this blog is, along with the SDGOP writ large. Mickelson is wildly popular and has the support of the vast majority of his constituents. The ballot measures he is sponsoring, including the marijuana ones, have a good chance of passing. He will win whatever election he wants next, and he would have been the likely winner of the Gov election had he stayed in.

    I don’t suspect he cares much about what the good ol boys at the SDWC think of him.

    1. KM

      Really, 18 comments is what you consider an echo chamber?

      You must have one of those crystal balls that predicted Hillary to win…”wildly popular”, “win whatever election he wants”…too funny.

      Don’t be so sexists, it’s not just the “good ol boys”, many women visit and comment on SDWC;)

  9. Troy Jones

    Some people have trouble when they call a spade a spade.

    I may not agree with his ballot efforts (for not the common reasons most do) but there are a lot of people who have never taken a single Constitutional Law class, read the Founding Father’s documents in total including the Federalist Papers, have never read a single Supreme Court Ruling, but think they are Constitutional Law scholars able to interpret complex Constitutional concepts.

    Their idea of what is constitutional is whether:

    1) They agree or disagree with it or not, or
    2) It agrees or disagrees with their view of the role of government, or,
    3) It agrees or disagrees with their view of liberty/the social contract.

    This is affliction of “knuckleheads” on the right and the left. I don’t blame Mickelson for saying what he did.

    Determination of what is Constitutional is the sole prerogative of the Courts.

    The citizen’s role is to express their collective will at the ballot box.

    1. Anonymous

      I happen to believe that when our leaders propose items for us citizens to vote on they should make sure they’re sending us a proposal that will pass Constitutional muster.

      Despite his Harvard law degree, I think your description of “knuckleheads'” idea of what is constitutional applies to Mark as well. He wants to do this, therefore he thinks it is constitutional.

    2. The Sage

      Its not unconstitutional until the court says it is. That’s really your argument, Troy? I suppose you also believe a child is not a child until it’s born? Or maybe you just think the people shouldn’t have anything to say about a child until it’s born?

      If something is unconstitutional, then it was unconstitutional from the day it was written. The court is the authority that sometime after it’s written gets to give it a name.

    3. Cliff Hadley

      All elected officials swear to uphold the constitution, i.e. they determine whether regs and laws are, in fact, constitutional. The courts can step in when inevitable conflicts occur.

  10. Michael Wyland

    I can’t recall the 1981 case – wonder if anyone knows its name? I do know that more recent precedent, such as Citizens United and especially McCutcheon, makes it highly unlikely the current U.S. Supreme Court will find Mickelson’s proposal constitutional.

    There is a strong case to be made that state and local ballot initiatives should be locally financed, but campaign finance disclosure in advance of election day coupled with publicity about money sources might make some out-of-state funders – and many voters – think twice.

    I wrote about this for NPQ last fall:
    Are There Two Sides of Out-of-State Money in Politics? About those Embattled Ballot Questions

  11. Troy Jones

    Sage, Cliff,

    That is not what I said. I just said a number of people (often who post anonymous and have no real credentials to know what is Constitutional or not) speak as if they had authority and understanding on the matter. I often wonder if something is Constitutional but don’t speak as if I had unerring confidence and knowledge on the matter.

    My points are:

    1) Many of the people who assert it is unconstitutional also are opposed to the matter on its merits. Why not just argue on its merits (something in which they are much more likely to have standing and knowledge) instead of engaging their mind.

    2) As I said in the beginning, at this time, I don’t support this measure but I’m interested in substantive discussion of its merits and demerits because there are goals it intends to accomplish which I do support. If the only commentary is “its unconstitutional” there is no discussion of the issue (on either side).

    Regarding the Anonymous person who just likes to make an ad hominem attack*: There is a reason people don’t think you matter politically. You aren’t very smart.

    * The attack really missed the mark since it ignores I don’t support this ballot measure. But, it confirms the lack of intelligence of the Anonymous poster because I made it clear from the start I didn’t support this measure. Stupid can be fixed if one thinks and works hard to learn things. But, big, dumb and lazy is a lot to overcome.

    1. Cliff Hadley

      Thanks for your extended remarks. I don’t support the measure, either, but am quite comfortable labeling it unconstitutional from the get-go because it attempts to limit 1st Amendment political speech.

  12. PseudoMarxist

    The merits don’t matter, Troy.

    The Court has already established that money is speech – see Citizens United.

    Michelson would be setting us up for a lengthy and costly court battle.

  13. Jim Jensen

    The best part is that the circulators he “shared” were out of state crooks, while the circulators working on the initiative he opposed as run by “out of state money” were all locals. Mark has zero actual interest in out of state vs in state money, he simply has a petty axe to grind against Marsys Law. You don’t see him banning out of state money flowing to Republican candidates.


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