Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is suing the Biden administration for canceling the Independence Day festivities at Mount Rushmore this July because of COVID-19 and objections from the park’s tribal partners.
Noem, who filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Central Division, described the Department of the Interior’s refusal to grant a permit for fireworks at the national park as a departure “from longstanding precedent,” and accused the administration of reneging on an agreement “without any meaningful explanation,” according to Fox News.
“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday and all that makes our country special,” wrote Noem. “After telling us they’d ‘circle back,’ the Biden Administration has not responded to our request to uphold the Memorandum Agreement between the State of South Dakota and the National Parks Service to host a safe and responsible national celebration and fireworks show.”
Noem asked the court “to enjoin the Department of Interior’s (DOI) denial of the fireworks permit and order it to issue a permit for the event expeditiously.”
National Park Service (NPS) Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote to South Dakota’s tourism office last month explaining why the federal agency was refusing a request from the state to permit July 4 celebrations at the iconic site. “Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event,” Frost wrote.
“In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial,” Frost added in the letter, which was first reported by The Hill.
During a speech at Mount Rushmore last July 4 that was followed by a spectacular fireworks display, former President Donald Trump extolled American ideals and warned against a “left-wing cultural revolution” that intends “to overthrow the American Revolution.”
President Joe Biden has presented the permission to congregate on Independence Day for small celebrations as a carrot to persuade Americans to get vaccinated. Last week, he threatened to rescind the offer if not enough Americans obey his advice. As The Daily Wire reported:
President Joe Biden warned [on April 20] that Americans may have to cancel the “small” Independence Day parties he suggested they have back in March to celebrate the end of the COVID-19 pandemic if they continue to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine.
Back in March, Biden announced, in a planned speech from the White House on the anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdowns, that Americans may be able to have small gatherings “in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” if COVID-19 numbers had sufficiently declined.
“Back on March 11, I outlined a vision of what America could look like by the Fourth of July — an America that was much closer to normal life that we left behind more than a year ago,” Biden said. “To celebrate our independence from this virus on July 4th with family and friends in small groups, we still have more to do in the months of May and June. We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down, until everyone has a chance to get their shot.”