South Dakota’s Bill to Redefine Justifiable Homicide Promotes Mob Rule

South Dakota State Rep. Phil Jensen

South Dakota State Rep. Phil Jensen (R-33) proposed bill, HB1171 “An Act to expand the definition of justifiable homicide to provide for the protection of certain unborn children,” would legalize murder of abortion clinic doctors and staff. The bill’s 28 sponsors (20 men and 8 women, 27 Republicans and 1 Independent) in addition to Jensen are State Reps. Jim Bolin, Thomas Brunner, Brock Greenfield, Jenna Haggar, Jon Hansen, Steve HickeyCharles Hoffman, Laura Hubbel, Don KoppMelissa Magstadt, Patty Miller, Stace Nelson, Betty Olson, Val Rausch, Lance Russell, Jacquelin Sly, Manny Steele, Patricia Stricherz, Edward Van Gerpen, Mark Venner, Mike Verchio, and Mark Willadsen and Senators Elizabeth Kraus, Art Fryslie, Dan Lederman, and Ryan Maher. The bill is going through the legislative process and is currently “pending” in the state’s judiciary committee with some amendments to it. The latest update is that Rep. Jensen is now considering dropping the bill in its entirety. That would be the wisest choice of all.

Rep. Jensen is also the prime sponsor for, HJR 1004 that seeks to amend his state’s constitution “to prohibiting the application of international law, the law of foreign nations, and certain foreign religious or moral codes in the state courts of South Dakota,” which sounds more like addressing a non-issue of Sharia Law. This law is a sacred religious law in Islam that is undergoing a discussion and evolution within the Islāmic community between various cultures who practice Islam, older generation that may be more fundamentalist in approach versus a growing modern generation that is not.

Instead of blurring the line between church and state by focusing on religion, be it Islam or the religious right, Jensen might want to consider focusing on jobs and the economy. Three years in a row, South Dakota has faced budget shortfalls and if it were not for federal stimulus dollars ($270-300 million) that South Dakota received, despite its lawmakers public outcry of President Obama spending too much (except for SD), the state would have been in a bigger mess. This year, South Dakota is considering budget cuts in education and Medicare.

As for redefining judicial homicide, we should all be concerned that 28 lawmakers, including 8 women, have co-sponsored a bill that would legalize what so many courts throughout our nation fight to protect us from everyday. Mob Rule, namely, when citizens take the law into their own hands. Justifiable homicide is a complex issue and should not be subjected to culture-warring and far-right politics. That is what is happening in South Dakota. All it takes is one domino to fall to start a cascading effect across our country. It is time to stop the culture wars before we turn this country into the O.K. Corral.

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