Vowing to sue the Biden administration over vaccine mandates and "trying to steal an authority" that lies with the states, South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem warned about "huge consequences" of elections that are putting "people in power for the wrong reasons."
"That's the one thing that this pandemic has taught us is that leadership has consequences," Noem told Newsmax on Tuesday in an exclusive interview from the Ronald Reagan ranch outside Santa Barbara, California. Excerpts aired on Wednesday's "Rob Schmitt Tonight."
"For your day-to-day lives, who's in that seat, that position of power really does matter. It matters for your kids' education,'' Noem said.
"It matters for your business, for your family, your healthcare, all of the above — and to wake up America to that again."
Noem said she has been attacked by the media and even by President Joe Biden, who recently warned conservative governors "to get out of the way" of COVID-19 protocols including lockdowns, mask rules and vaccine mandates.
She has prepared for a fight by huddling with legal counsel and constitutional attorneys, she told Schmitt.
"I really wanted to understand what my authority was as governor and what authority I didn't have," she said. "I'm just a big believer that when leaders overstep their authority, especially in a time of crisis, that's when we break this country."
Noem said that her role as governor is to protect the people of her state against "federal government intrusion."
"My No. 1 commitment to people of South Dakota was that I took an oath to the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution and that I would adhere to it," she continued.
"I don't think that governors have the authority to tell businesses that they're not essential. Never issued shelter in place, never mandated masks. I basically stood up in front of the people of South Dakota and told them that I was going to trust them."
Noem excoriated the media and the Biden administration, accusing both of weaponizing the COVID-19 pandemic fear to "promote their agenda."
"We're living in scary times, and we watched throughout this pandemic that the media and the liberals used fear to control people, and they used fear to scare people and promote their agenda," she said. "So I had to keep reminding people that I was going to do my job, but that the power lies with the people, and that's the way our founders intended it.
"I wasn't going to go in an start mandating to private businesses where I didn't think the federal government had a role, this state government had a role. When conservatives are willing to take the same actions as the liberals are, then I don't think they we're any better than them."
Noem is still conferring with constitutional law experts and advisers on the legal language of her coming lawsuit against the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
"I am going to sue the federal government for their mandates on requiring business with 100 people or more to have vaccines," she vowed. "We need to see their guidance to see how to word that litigation, but I promised people when I ran for governor that I would protect them from federal government intrusion."
Noem declared that the administration is attempting to ''steal" authority from state and local leaders under the guise of a health emergency that has not hit her state as it has many of larger, Democrat-controlled ones.
"I went, unfortunately from President [Donald] Trump, from being on offense every day and solving problems, to now being on defense every day from the fighting the federal government on ways they're trying to steal an authority that the states have and that the people have," she warned.
"I have to challenge them on grounds that I think can stand up in court. I really do have an opportunity to really show people that what the federal government is doing is not appropriate."
Her lawsuit might also seek relief for U.S. military service members in her state, she added. "Our military are dealing with different consequences just because of the nature of the military and the history, and they are under federal authorization," she acknowledged. "And that's a challenge, but we're continuing to look at every legal option that we have to continue to stand up for them."
Apart from winning a lawsuit, though, she said South Dakota residents and U.S. citizens need to "show up" to vote for the leaders they want.
"I tend to be a bit of an optimist," Noem said. "I think there are a lot of challenges going on in this country right now.
"Maybe the fact that people were sleepy to the role of government in their lives before are finally waking up and recognizing the huge consequences to having people in power for the wrong reasons.
"This country is still changed by people who show up. Show up. It matters."
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