South Dakota Governor Vetos School / Locker Room Gender Bill

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a transgender-targeted school/locker room bill. Good for him.

What caused me to start this thread, though, was his comment on the reason for the veto, which struck me as an excellent example of correct conservative reasoning:

The bill, he said:

So now do politicians have to define/argue over the definition of “pressing issue”?
Because that’s just, you know, like, his *opinion, *man.

It’s certainly less contentious than “I’m vetoing this bill because it’s bigoted bullshit and we ought to be addressing real issues instead of fearmonging nonsense”.


But I argue that the proper role of government is not to call out bigots, even when bigots they be. And I argue that fear and ignorance are not the same as bigotry, and the motives for this bill are much more rooted in the former.

But mostly I point out that this is the reason I praise his response: he says, simply and correctly, that there is no pervasive problem that this bill would fix. That, and only that, is good reason to not make it law.

Preventing discrimination and shutting down bigoted laws is also a good reason.

What if it fixed a problem but did so through unequal protection of citizens? Wouldn’t that be a good reason to not make it law?

No. Virtually every law treats some citizens differently than others.

The specific type of distinction a law drew among citizens might be cause for opposition, but as a general rule your statement is not correct.

Bricker, I’m really not trying to be clever here, I may not understand the nuance of your positions correctly, but aren’t there parallels to voter ID laws here, which I seem to recall that you support?

Proponents of this bill would argue that without it, child molesters could pretend to be transgender women in order to molest children in bathrooms. Even though that doesn’t happen, you could argue that this bill would create a perception of safety in bathrooms, much in the same way that voter ID laws don’t really do anything to protect against voter fraud but they create a perception of integrity that you found to be compelling.

Yeah, I’m willing to accept that “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” qualifies as a principled conservative position on governance, but I’m not seeing a lot of conservatives applying it consistently.

Maybe some background on why the bill was proposed, and a link to the text of the bill? Not sure how any of us can weigh in on Bricker’s OP without that info.



This WP article points out one of the compelling government interests – it would settle the issue for school districts that are apply standards inconsistently and facing lawsuits because of it:

Thanks. In CA, we have the opposite law. Public schools are required to allow transgendered persons to use the bathroom of their sexual identity, not their biological gender.

Seems to me that some sort of law needs to be in place to address the issue, and it’s an issue in every state.

I agree. It might or might not be a pressing issue in South Dakota at the moment, but eventually school districts everywhere are going to want cover one way or the other.

I did not say unequal treatment, I said unequal protection. If a law denies equal protection to certain citizens, it’s a textbook violation of the fourteenth amendment.

I suppose you could argue this.

But in a representative democracy, the will of the people is expressed through its elected leaders. I have no problem with a state refusing to enact Voter ID laws, or even with a state governor vetoing such a law. That’s the way the process works; that’s how we get law. That outcome means that the citizens of that state, speaking through their elected leaders, have decided there is no need for such laws.

So what’s the next question? If the governor had signed the bill, what would I say?

I’d say the law is legitimate, and should feel attacked through legislative pressure. The way to fix wrong public policy enshrined into law is generally to change the law. The law’s legitimacy arises from the exercise of sovereignty by We, The People. Sure, we surrender our power to our elected leaders, but we can recall them every two, four, or six years.

Of course, our Constitution, the supreme law of the land, was ALSO enacted by We, The People, and mere statutory law must yield to it. But to do that, the Constitution must mean what We The People thought it meant when we approved it. If the Constitution can substantively change meaning without changing its words, and that change is effected by unelected, lifetime-appointed judges, then We The People have given away our power to write our own supreme law.

So what about a law that permits citizens over age 17 to vote, but denies the vote to those 17 and under? Does that violate the fourteenth amendment? How about a law that restricts the practice of dentistry to only those citizens that have been granted certain licenses?

Would you argue for this specific law to be attacked (through legislative pressure) on the same grounds that you praise in the OP, which is that it doesn’t address a pressing issue? And if so, do you propose we attack voter ID laws for the same reason? This may be the nuance of your position that I don’t fully understand; ISTR that you’re in favor of voter ID laws not just because they’ve passed legislative muster, but because creating a perception of integrity is reason enough.

I’ll answer your questions, but first I’d like some clarification on your examples: do they deny equal protection of the law to citizens?

I can imagine it is sometimes a reason to claim, when one’s real reason might be “this is bigotry”. Whatever this governor’s reason was, anything that helps politicians be harmless is probably a good thing.

I think K-12 schools are a bad place for social experiments. Maybe we should start in bars, taverns, Capitols and sausage factories … places lil’ children don’t belong.