A new bill introduced in South Dakota's Republican-controlled House of Representatives aims to give the state's attorney general the power to reject any executive order issued by President Joe Biden deemed to be unconstitutional.
What are the details?
The legislation, HB 1194, introduced by newly elected Republican state Rep. Aaron Aylward, comes as Biden has issued a flurry of executive orders and actions during his first weeks in office, despite previously arguing that only "dictators" rule by executive orders.
With the new bill, Aylward hopes to rein in the president's executive power by authorizing the state to review certain executive orders that "restrict a person's rights."
"The Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council may review any executive order issued by the President of the United States, if the order has not been affirmed by a vote of the Congress of the United States and signed into law, as prescribed by the Constitution of the United States," the bill's text reads.
"Upon review, the Executive Board may recommend to the attorney general and the Governor that the order be further examined by the attorney general to determine the constitutionality of the order and to determine whether the state should seek an exemption from the application of the order or seek to have the order declared to be an unconstitutional exercise of legislative authority by the President," it continues.
Under the legislation, the state's attorney general would be able to exempt South Dakota from the any executive order "that restricts a person's rights" or is determined "to be unconstitutional" as long as the order relates to the following:
- A pandemic or other public health emergency
- The regulation of natural resources
- The regulation of the agricultural industry
- The regulation of land use
- The regulation of the financial sector through the imposition of environmental, social, or governance standards, or
- The regulation of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms
In an interview with local news outlet KELO-TV, Aylward insisted that the legislation is not just a response to recent action from Biden, but is intended to push back against the steady expansion of executive power in the U.S. in general.
"This isn't just a President Biden issue but rather an overall executive overreach issue that we've been experiencing for a long time," he said. "The U.S. Congress has abdicated their duty for a long time in different areas. This bill is simply setting up a process to nullify acts that would be unconstitutional. When looking at the U.S. Constitution, the President only has the powers that are laid out in Article II."
The new state lawmaker argued that, if signed into law, the bill would go a long way toward restoring federalism in the country and for South Dakota specifically.
"If this were to pass, it would give South Dakota much of its power back," he said. "Per the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the powers of the federal government need to line up with what is laid out in the document."