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The initiative “author” who can’t read or understand what he wrote

South Dakota’s J.A.I.L.ers have released their letter to Attorney General Larry Long asking him to rewrite his ballot explanation for the measure. The letter is so full of varying doses of sarcasm, nonsense and extremist stream of consciousness that it will take several posts to address. Let me first give a hint to the J.A.I.L.ers: If you’re going to invoke the dissenting opinion of a South Dakota Supreme Court justice, try to spell his name right.

To get to the substance, though, let’s start with the J.A.I.L.ers’ first complaint. J.A.I.L.er-in-Chief Bill Stegmeier complains the AG was wrong in saying J.A.I.L. applies to more than the judiciary. He asks Long, “Please explain in writing, on what basis did you conclude that Amendment E concerns and covers anyone other than judges?” (Emphasis added.) He then asserts:

Nowhere in the language of Amendment E does it state or invoke jurisdiction over juries, school boards, city councils, county commissions or prosecutors. That is an invention by our opponents which you have adopted as your own, Attorney General Long. . . . . Amendment E clearly speaks only of judges, yet you perversely concoct an unfounded interpretation that wants to include “every person.”

(Emphasis in original.)

The fact is Amendment E defines the term “judge” to include “all other persons claiming to be shielded by judicial immunity.” (Emphasis added.) But Stegmeier says — in a footnote — “The term ‘judge’ is clearly and simply defined here and it does not mention, and thereby does not include juries, school boards, city councils, county commissions or prosecutors. Attorney General Long, why do you lawyers always seem to make the simple – complicated, the clear – muddy [sic]?” (Emphasis added.) This BS is what is making the simple and clear the opposite.

There must be some meaning to the phrase “all other persons claiming to be shielded by judicial immunity.” Why else is it there? And, while I know this is repetitious (see, e.g., here, here or here), each and every one of the entities mentioned by Stegmeier and in the ballot explanation are entitled to be shielded by judicial immunity when acting in that capacity. If the last phrase in the definition of “judge” has any meaning, then it must, of necessity, encompass those and similar entities.

In other footnotes, Stegmeier actually supports that fact. He says terms like case, order and judgment are “terms of art usually related to the judiciary.” Usually is the key word there. That’s because those terms also apply to administrative agencies, school boards and the like because when they act in a judicial capacity they hear cases and issue orders and judgments. The bottom line is plain and simple. These entities and individuals do occasionally act in a judicial capacity, making them among those “claiming to be shielded by judicial immunity” and bringing them within the scope of J.A.I.L.

It is also audacious for Stegemeier to claim the assertion that J.A.I.L. applies to more than the judiciary is an “invention” of J.A.I.L.’s opponents. After all, he’s the one who told residents of Madison that “with the passage of SD J.A.I.L., any governmental employee (of any stripe, shape, or flavor) previously accustomed to violating the rights of South Dakota citizens while hiding behind the bogus doctrine of ‘judicial immunity’, will now have to shape up or ship out.” (Emphasis added.)

Stegmeier claims to have “authored” Amendment E. Yet now he not only ignores or plays dumb about what it actually says, he runs from what he himself has said in the past. Guess you gotta fit the lie to the occasion, even if you are writing to the Attorney General.


Lies and perfidy are the refuge of fools and cowards.

Philip Dormer Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield’s Letters

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3 comments to The initiative “author” who can’t read or understand what he wrote

  • Anonymous

    It is amazing and scary that kooks like the righteous Unruh’s can support JAIL and the abortion ban with such a strong public following. What is South Dakota coming to?

  • Anonymous

    It’s called FREEDOM! Unlike the McArthy-ism you folks push on anyone who disagrees with you

  • Anonymous

    Freedom huh? How is it freedom when Stegmeier says one thing one day and another thing another?