Fox News host Tucker Carlson went head-to-head Monday night against South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) over her decision to send a bill to protect girls’ sports back to the legislature.
As Faithwire reported Monday, Noem angered some conservatives when she issued what’s called a “style and form veto” of the “Promote Continued Fairness in Women’s Sports” bill, asking lawmakers to revise the proposal to apply only to elementary and secondary school athletics in South Dakota.
The legislation, H.B. 1217, would ban any student at a state school from joining a sports team that does not correspond with his or her biological birth sex.
Noem argued in her veto that the bill’s “vague and overly broad language could have significant unintended consequences” in South Dakota and argued it should not apply to collegiate athletics because, in doing so, it could welcome litigation and “punitive” actions by the NCAA.
At the beginning of their conversation Monday evening, Carlson framed Noem’s decision as the governor caving to pressure from the NCAA, Amazon, and commercial financial interests.
“Well, that’s not true, Tucker,” said Noem. “I could sign the bill the way that it is today. But it wouldn’t solve the problem, and that’s the real issue.”
She went on to reiterate what she explained during her press conference Monday afternoon, which was that signing the bill in its current form would give the NCAA the freedom to “take punitive action against our state,” claiming “legal scholars” she has consulted “say I would very likely lose those litigation efforts.”
Carlson then asked Noem if she backed down because “the NCAA threatened you and you don’t think you can win that fight.” He went on to ask, “They said, ‘If you sign this, we won’t allow girls in South Dakota to play,’ and you don’t think you can win in court, even though the public overwhelmingly supports you nationally? And so you’re caving to the NCAA? I think that’s what you’re saying.”
“No, that’s not right at all, Tucker,” Noem replied. “In fact, you’re wrong completely.”
She told the Fox News anchor that — as it is right now — the legislation would allow the NCAA “to bully South Dakota” and “would actually prevent women from being able to participate in collegiate sports.” The governor was referring to the possibility that the NCAA could choose to stop holding tournaments and home games in her state and, as she said during her presser Monday, could “even prevent our athletes from playing in their league.”
Noem said that, if state lawmakers don’t make the changes she has requested, she will seek a new proposal. And, if that doesn’t happen, the governor said she will call a special legislative session “to protect girls’ sports K-12.”
As part of a larger strategy, Noem has launched what she is calling the “Defend Title IX Now” coalition, a cohort of states that can eventually take on the NCAA and protect Title IX collectively.
“Once we have enough states on board,” she said Monday, “a coalition, big enough to where the NCAA cannot possibly punish us all, then we can guarantee fairness at the collegiate level.”