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State defends South Dakota pipeline protest legislation

Pierre, S.D. —  South Dakota’s governor and attorney general are asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging a new law that aims to prevent disruptive demonstrations against the Keystone XL pipeline if it’s built.

The law allows officials to pursue money from demonstrators who engage in “riot boosting,” which is defined in part as encouraging violence during a riot.

The American Civil Liberties Union and American Indian tribes say it will stifle free speech. The state disputes that.

Deputy Attorney General Richard Williams in a court filing says the state denies that “any objectively reasonable fear of prosecution for protected speech” will arise under the law.

The $8 billion pipeline project is tied up in the courts, as president Donald Trump tries to push it through but environmental groups resist.

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