A second lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Gov. Tim Walz on behalf of multiple Minnesota churches and small business owners.
The complaint asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to strike down Walz’s emergency executive orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic as unconstitutional under the First, Fifth, and 14th Amendments. The lawsuit says the governor “chose a draconian shutdown that picks winners and losers, with devastating effects.”
“The State does not have a compelling reason for prohibiting church services where congregants can otherwise practice adequate social distancing protocol, especially when compared to the vast secular activities exempted under the EOs, nor has it selected the least restrictive means to further any purported interest,” states the complaint.
The lawsuit was filed by the Upper Midwest Law Center on behalf of Northland Baptist Church, Living Word Christian Center, and the owners and operators of Glow In One Mini Golf, Myron’s Cards and Gifts, and 18/8 Fine Men’s Salons. The suit names Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and three county attorneys as defendants.
According to the lawsuit, the Walz administration has “deprived all Plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” because his executive orders “ban Plaintiffs’ work and speech but except other similarly situated persons and businesses from their restrictions.”
A different lawsuit was filed against Walz last week, but the Upper Midwest Law Center said its complaint “differs markedly” from the first lawsuit and poses “different constitutional questions.”
“In this litigation we ask the Court to declare Gov. Walz’s 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 Gov. Walz for the tremendous losses they have faced due to the executive orders,” James Dickey, lead trial counsel for the law firm, explained in a statement.
“Gov. Walz’s 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,” he said.
Howard Root, chair of the Upper Midwest Law Center, said the organization “cannot sit idly by while the governor uses this pandemic to shred the Constitution.”
“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,” said Doug Seaton, president of the law center. “It is clear that his continuing lockdown executive orders fail these constitutional requirements.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.