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Applause as federal court blocks ‘unconstitutional’ South Dakota law that would hit pipeline protesters with up to 25 years in prison

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“The so-called ‘Riot Boosting’ Act was clearly intended to suppress constitutionally-protected, peaceful protests of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Environmentalists celebrated Wednesday after a federal court temporarily blocked enforcement of a recently enacted South Dakota law that aims to hit pipeline protesters with fines and up to 25 years in prison.

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Legal experts and green groups have decried the law, officially titled the Riot Boosting Act, as a flagrant violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution that was obviously targeted at Keystone XL opponents.

“The so-called ‘Riot Boosting’ Act was clearly intended to suppress constitutionally-protected, peaceful protests of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Stephen Pevar, senior staff attorney with the ACLU, which filed suit to stop the law from taking effect. “We’re glad the court recognized that these vague and overbroad laws threaten the First Amendment rights of South Dakotans on every side of the issue.”

South Dakota is one of several Republican-controlled states to pass legislation in recent months to criminalize pipeline protests. In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed in to law a measure that would hit pipeline protesters with up to a decade in prison.

As Common Dreams reported in June, the Trump administration is also looking to punish anti-pipeline demonstrations at the federal level.

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In his ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol wrote: “Imagine that if these riot boosting statutes were applied to the protests that took place in Birmingham, Alabama, what might be the result? Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference could have been liable under an identical riot boosting law.”

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Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network applauded the court’s decision as “a good step in protecting our right to organize, educate, and promote a sustainable future for all generations of life.”

“As Dakota,” said Goldtooth, “it is our duty to protect the land and water, and speaking up on behalf of these sacred elements is essential to that endeavor.”

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The week Donald Trump’s presidency crashed and burned — and Republicans noticed

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It feels as though every week during the Trump administration is a year and every year a decade. Every day there is a crisis or an outrage or a revelation that takes your breath away. But the underlying dynamics always seem to be the same no matter what. The press reports the story, the Democrats get outraged, the pundits analyze it, the president rages and then Fox and the Republicans all line up like a bunch of robots and salute smartly. Then we reset until the next crisis, outrage or revelation. It's an exhausting cycle that never seems to get us anywhere and it's bred a fatalistic response in many of us: "Nothing matters."

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‘We’re ready to vote’: Oversight Committee Dem claims Congress has the goods for impeachment

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