SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In a significant development, Federal District Judge Roberto Lange issued a temporary restraining order against Minnehaha County, effectively halting the enforcement of new petition circulation prohibitions.

The ruling responds to a lawsuit filed by Dakotans for Health, a healthcare advocacy network and ballot question committee in South Dakota, which argues that the county’s policy restricts South Dakotans’ First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit contends that the county’s policy limits the outdoor space available for political speech, prohibiting 99.3% of the previously accessible area. It asserts that the two rectangular areas established for petition circulators are inadequate and fail to provide a suitable platform for engaging with potential signatories.  Furthermore, the lawsuit argues that a requirement for all petition circulators and political speakers to pre-register infringes on the right to anonymous speech.

“South Dakota has a longstanding tradition of circulating petitions and collecting signatures to enact laws and constitutional changes through the citizen initiative process. These new rules severely obstruct that activity and undermine direct democracy and free speech,” stated Rick Weiland, Co-Founder of Dakotans for Health.

“Dakotans for Health remains steadfast in its dedication to safeguarding the democratic process and will continue to advocate for the people’s right to engage in core political speech,” Weiland concluded.

Dakotans for Health official press release