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South Dakota enlists Trump attorney in abortion lawsuit

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Jay Sekulow

Personal attorney to President Donald Trump, Jay Sekulow, speaks with reporters after Trump was acquitted in an impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 5, 2020.

South Dakota has enlisted one of former President Donald Trump’s lead attorneys to help in its attempt to lift a decade-old injunction that nullified part of a state law requiring women to consult with a crisis pregnancy center before having an abortion, the governor and attorney general said Wednesday.

Jay Sekulow, who was one of Trump’s lead attorneys during his impeachment trial last year, will offer the services of his firm, the American Center for Law and Justice, for free, the governor’s and attorney general’s offices said. The nonprofit Christian legal advocacy group is based in Washington, D.C.

The announcement comes after the state revived a fight over a 2011 law that required women seeking an abortion to consult with a pregnancy center that often discourages women from having an abortion. Judge Karen Schreier, who was appointed under President Bill Clinton, ordered an injunction that kept the law from taking effect.

After Schreier ruled against the state's attempt to lift the injunction last month, the state appealed to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sekulow was one of Trump’s most visible defenders, enduring as a trusted attorney for the president even as other of his lawyers have been sidelined or entangled in controversy.

Noem first made the announcement Wednesday, calling Sekulow “a brilliant conservative legal mind.”

Roughly an hour later, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg released a statement saying that he had consulted with Sekulow and appointed him and his staff as “special assistant attorneys general.”

Ravnsborg and Noem, both Republicans, have become political enemies as Noem has pressed for the attorney general to step down from his office for a car crash last year in which he killed a pedestrian.

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