Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen Appears on Talk Back
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has agreed to appear monthly on the Talk Back show to take questions from callers, and his April visit was on Monday.
Asked about the progress in the lawsuit against the Biden administration over the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Knudsen said the first upcoming court appearance will be mainly administrative, but eventually, he hopes to have a judge overturn the decision.
“We're going to be moving for a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration,” said Knudsen. “So we'll be asking that judge to step in and put a stop to President Biden's executive order, and, in theory, if the judge grants that preliminary injunction, we should be able to get that project moving again.”
Knudsen did acknowledge that the case may be bumped from court to court, and he hopes that it will eventually end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
“If we get the preliminary injunction, I think we do likely get appealed from that district court,” he said. “Now that's going to take some time. That will go up to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals from there and then the Eighth Circuit will take a look at that judge's ruling. I think it's very likely that we end up all the way at the US Supreme Court.”
One caller attempted to force the Attorney General into admitting that Montanans either practice systemic racism, or promote White Supremacy, a postulation that Knudsen fully rejected.
“You could say that that's just a function of our demographics,” he said. “There are simply more Caucasian people than there are people of color in Montana. That’s not to say there aren't talented people of color, absolutely not. No one here is saying that whites are supreme and I completely reject your premise that it's one or the other, that there's either systemic racism or you're a white supremacist. That's an idiotic notion. Frankly, I'll go so far as to call that ignorant. But to get out here and suggest that anybody is advocating for white supremacy is just disgusting.”
Knudsen responded to a question of the authority the state attorney general has over enforcement of mask mandates and other health department orders.
“A local health department has statutory authority to create certain ordinances or orders, but they have to be enforced by your local police, and ultimately those end up on the desk of your county attorney for prosecution or non prosecution,” he said. “That's how this works. I've made it clear that I think these mask mandates are unconstitutional and that county attorneys are not going to be enforcing them. That's why every time we've had a county attorney who's tried to enforce them in Montana, since I've been the Attorney General, they get thrown out because I have the I have authority over the county attorneys.”
Knudsen did add that private businesses do have the right to post signs that require customers to wear masks, just as in the ‘no shirt - no shoes - no service’ policy.
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