May 6, 2020 | Upper Midwest Law Center | Katie Fulkerson | Katie.Fulkerson@umwlc.org |
“We cannot sit idly by while the governor uses this pandemic to shred the Constitution”
“Executive shutdown orders interfere with constitutionally protected religious and business activities that are able to comply with CDC guidelines”
“Minneapolis, MN – Upper Midwest Law Center, a Minnesota-based public interest law firm, filed suit on behalf of multiple Minnesota churches and small business owners to strike down Governor Tim Walz’ unilateral shutdown emergency executive orders as unconstitutional under the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, and a copy of the complaint is available at www.umwlc.org.
By posing other and different constitutional questions to a federal court, the lawsuit differs markedly from a separate suit filed recently in the state appeals court by the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition. That suit is proceeding separately.
The plaintiffs in this case are:
Northland Baptist Church of St. Paul, Minnesota and Pastor John Bruski, who have been prohibited from holding in-person religious services and indoor or outdoor religious gatherings while at the same time similar types of secular gatherings have been allowed under the executive orders.
Living Word Christian Center, which has been prohibited from holding in-person religious services and indoor or outdoor religious gatherings, while at the same time similar types of secular gatherings have been allowed under the executive orders.
Glow In One Mini Golf L.L.C. in Blaine, Minnesota, and its owner and operator, Aaron Kessler, who have been prohibited from operating a mini-golf business while at the same time golf courses have been allowed to operate under the executive orders.
Myron’s Cards and Gifts, Inc. and its owner and operator Larry Evenson, which has locations in Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Roseville, Blaine and Mankato, Minnesota, who have been required to shut down five greeting card and gift stores while at the same time big box stores such as Target, Walgreens and CVS have been allowed to stay open and sell greeting cards and gifts under the executive orders.
Andrew Hulse and Gay Bunch-Hulse, owners and operators of 18 | 8 Fine Men’s Salons in Maple Grove and Wayzata, Minnesota, who have been prohibited from operating their state-licensed and infection control trained hair salons while at the same time liquor stores and pet groomers have been allowed to operate under the executive orders.
“Governor Walz’ scheme of selecting economic winners and losers by wholly shutting down some businesses while allowing others to remain open violates the Plaintiff businesses’ 14th Amendment due process and equal protection rights,” stated Doug Seaton, Esq., President of the Upper Midwest Law Center. “Governor Walz’ actions also constitute a taking under the Fifth Amendment, and his prohibition on worshippers gathering violates churches’ and individuals’ First Amendment rights. The Constitution requires that the Governor respect the individual rights of all citizens at all times, narrowly tailor any restrictions, and apply the same rules to all. It is clear that his continuing lockdown executive orders fail these constitutional requirements.”
James Dickey, Esq., lead trial counsel to the Upper Midwest Law Center, added the following: “In this litigation we ask the Court to declare Governor Walz’ executive orders unconstitutional and enjoin him, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the county attorneys charged with enforcement of the executive orders from enforcing them. The Plaintiff businesses also seek money damages from Governor Walz for the tremendous losses they have faced due to the executive orders. Governor Walz’ orders exceed his statutory authority and violate fundamental rights, so we will be seeking a temporary restraining order from the U.S. District Court and are prepared to take this matter to the Eighth Circuit and Supreme Court if needed.”
Howard Root, Chair of the Upper Midwest Law Center, concluded: “The Upper Midwest Law Center was founded in 2019 to protect the individual rights of citizens against the overreach of government. We cannot sit idly by while the governor uses this pandemic to shred the Constitution – especially when Gov. Walz has so many alternatives to fight the spread of COVID-19 that can be fairly applied in a constitutional manner.””
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