As Independence Day approaches, the nation is poised for a return to normal following the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
According to The Hill, however, a federal judge has ruled that the spectacular fireworks set off last summer at Mount Rushmore will not be returning this July 4.
“Fully understands the State’s position”
The Biden administration has argued that the display would offend Native American tribes and could pose a health risk, The Hill reported. Fireworks returned to the national monument last year for the first time since 2009.
Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem objected to the decision, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”
In a 36-page decision, however, Judge Roberto Lange made it clear that he disagreed with Noem and declined to issue a temporary injunction in the matter.
The judge wrote that he “fully understands the State’s position and why this suit was brought” but nevertheless concluded that Noem would be unlikely to prevail if the case went forward.
As for Noem’s assertion, Lange wrote that the Biden administration’s reasoning was not completely plausible but it was not “arbitrary and capricious.”
“Strong arguments in both directions”
He was not convinced that the crowd at Mount Rushmore would present a COVID-19 risk and indicated that he would have sided with Noem if that were the only reason provided by the federal government. Other arguments, he determined, might hold up in court.
The National Park Service also cited the risk of wildfires, environmental harm, and offense to indigenous tribes along with ongoing construction at the monument.
“Ultimately, there are strong arguments in both directions as to the balance of harms, and the public interest in the short-term appears to lie with having the fireworks display, whereas more long-term interests mitigate against it at least for this year,” Lange added.
While President Joe Biden himself has cast the upcoming holiday as a point of independence from the virus, the White House still apparently thinks it is too dangerous to celebrate it freely.
According to The Hill, Noem responded to the latest development by criticizing the judge’s order, writing: “I am disappointed that the court gave cover to this unlawful action with today’s decision. But rest assured, this fight is not over.”