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U.S. judge removes sheriff from lawsuit challenging laws meant to crack down on opposition to Keystone XL pipeline

This June 12, 2019 file photo shows demonstrators against the Keystone XL pipeline walking to to Andrew W. Bogue Federal Courthouse in in Rapid City, S.D. .
This June 12, 2019 file photo shows demonstrators against the Keystone XL pipeline walking to to Andrew W. Bogue Federal Courthouse in in Rapid City, S.D. . (Adam Fondren/Rapid City Journal via AP, File)

A U.S. federal judge says a South Dakota sheriff should be removed from a lawsuit challenging new state laws that aim to prevent disruptive demonstrations against the Keystone XL pipeline.

The suit spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union contends Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom would be enforcing laws that amount to an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

READ MORE: Sheriff should have to defend anti-protest laws believed to be aimed at Keystone XL pipeline opponents: lawyer

Watch below: Some videos about the Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol said in an order filed Wednesday that Thom is not making any choices on state policy.

The legislation allows officials to pursue criminal or civil penalties against demonstrators who engage in “riot boosting,” defined in part as encouraging violence during a riot.

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READ MORE: Trump administration wants tribes’ Keystone XL pipeline lawsuit dismissed

It’s meant to head off Keystone XL protests like those mounted against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

Watch below: Some videos about the Dakota Access pipeline.

Other defendants in the lawsuit are South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.