They haven't started construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline yet here in South Dakota but the legal battle over the pipeline is well underway.
Keystone XL Pipeline protest
Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol granted a preliminary injunction against parts of co-called "riot boosting" laws passed this year by the South Dakota State Legislature.
The laws were designed to prevent disruptive protests against the Keystone XL Pipeline.
But opponents said the laws were too broad and violated their free speech rights.
In his opinion, Judge Piersol said that "mere advocacy, even if distasteful, is protected speech as distinguished from incitement to immediate lawless action" and said few people would actually know what was prohibited under the law.
State Representative Tim Goodwin of Rapid City voted for Senate Bill 189 and says he thinks the law will ultimately survive a legal challenge.
Rep. Goodwin says, "We feel that Senate Bill 189/190 was some of the best legislation we've ever passed. It sticks up for all parties. You can still protest as long as you don't break the law. The riot boosting is very good legislation. that means if you pay people to come break the law, that you're liable too. That means somebody like George Soros or somebody, if he puts busloads of people and pays them, he's going to be liable as well."
On the other hand, Nick Tilsen, the president and CEO of the NDN Collective, which led protests against the new laws here back in June called the decision a great step in the right direction.
He says the ruling protects their free speech and allows them to continue to organize against the pipeline.
Tilsen says, "None of us actually stopped organizing because we think protecting Mother Earth and fighting the pipeline is more important than stopping., But we were doing so with the treat of criminal charges against us. And so with the injunction in place, what it allows us to do is allows us to continue to organize, continue to mobilize, continue to resource our movement, but to do so unencumbered."
Tilsen says they have case law on their side but still says they believe some portions of these laws could survive to violate their rights.
Representative Goodwin thinks Judge Piersol's decision will be overruled by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.