But much of her argument against the bill concerns the potential for corporate backlash—and she issued her “style and form” veto after the NCAA, the state Chamber of Commerce, and other corporate interests, including Amazon, aggressively lobbied against the legislation. Primary among Noem’s stated objections is an appeal to “legal scholars” who argue that the bill would lead the state to lose a court case against the NCAA at some point in the future. As Noem’s press conference made clear, she isn’t arguing that the courts would overturn the law itself. Instead, she’s arguing that if she were to apply the law to colleges, the NCAA could “punish” her—by, say, not holding tournaments in the state, or even banning South Dakota students from competing. Then, if she were to sue to stop them from doing so, she would lose that case. Or so the “legal scholars” assure her.
In other words, Noem is arguing that she can’t justify the risk of upsetting a powerful corporate interest. Potentially losing the NCAA’s business played at least a small role in her decision—one of Noem’s consultants has a vested interest in NCAA tournaments in the state. But the other business interests in her state are likely of greater concern. Noem has staked her gubernatorial career on her ability to attract big business to South Dakota. Noem’s chief of staff is on the board of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce—and both the Sioux Falls Chamber and the state Chamber have opposed the bill. Other critics of the bill have publicly expressed worries that if the bill were passed, Amazon might halt construction of a new fulfillment center in Sioux Falls.