South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's (R) spokesman Ian Fury on Wednesday said the Republican Party's rising star has fallen victim to so-called "conservative cancel culture" because of concerns surrounding her decision not to sign a bill barring transgender athletes from participating in women's sports.
“Governor Noem is very used to fighting off criticism from the left,” Fury told the Daily Caller in a statement. “After all, in the past year, she was the only governor in the entire nation to never order a single business or church in her state to close. The left bullied her incessantly, but she didn’t cave.”
“But if any number of conservative pundits are to be believed, that same governor who refused to cave is now caving to the NCAA and Amazon on the issue of fairness in women’s sports. What? Apparently, uninformed cancel culture is fine when the right is eating their own,” Fury said.
Noem raised eyebrows when she sent the bill back to the state legislature through the "style and form" process, especially after repeatedly saying she was excited to sign it into law. The American Principles Project (APP) warned about Noem's decision, saying she's essentially "proposing to gut the bill to such a degree so it would not have any effect at all."
According to Noem, "legal scholars" have warned her about the potential lawsuits associated with the bill, especially when it comes to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and their demands.
"I'm sick and tired of the NCAA threatening states, challenging us, and bullying us and so we're going to build a coalition of leaders, athletes, and people who want to protect women's sports and want to make sure women keep Title IX funding, to protect their right to be competitive and be rewarded by participating in these team sports and make sure this coalition can fight the NCAA to make sure we're protecting Title IX," she explained to Fox News' Tucker Carlson earlier this week.
But the Fox News host pressed back, asking why Noem didn't sign the bill and vow to take on corporations, like Amazon and the NCAA, who have pressured the governor to veto the bill.
"The bill that my legislature gave me is a trial lawyer's dream," the governor said. "It creates more and more litigation and regulation that's impossible to comply with for families and for school districts and people going forward."
According to Noem, there are issues with boys and girls having to prove their gender, something that could open the state up to litigation.
"If a child doesn't make a team they have up to a year later, can come back and sue every member of that team in the K-12 system and the entire school district as well, and continue suing so they have the opportunity to play," the governor explained. "If we put collegiate athletics on there then we will get punitively challenged by the NCAA and we'll have to continue to fight them and a court district that is not friendly to winning."
Noem has repeatedly cited her fight with the 4-H rodeo as evidence of her commitment to protecting women's sports. In that instance, rodeo officials wanted the elimination of sex-based competition, something Noem fought to keep in place.
“3 years ago, Governor Noem was the only public official to stand with 4-H rodeo when the USDA (under the Trump administration no less) tried to force boys and girls to compete against each other,” Fury told the Caller. “She won that fight and protected fairness.”
South Dakota is a small state with limited resources. Even though it's wildly popular for Noem to sign the bill into law, she also has to think about the legal ramifications, especially when it comes to powerful corporations threatening a drawn-out lawsuit. While these corporations have an unlimited supply of cash, South Dakotans don't. This is one of those instances where Noem has to weigh the pros and cons of a hotly-contested piece of legislation, even if it's something she wholeheartedly agrees with.