Republican lawmakers who sued Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that he has failed to provide legal justification for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are winning on this issue, and Gov. Walz knows it,” said Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal), one of 13 Republican lawmakers who joined a lawsuit against Walz over his use of emergency powers during the pandemic.
“The executive orders and actions undertaken by the Walz administration are on extremely precarious legal footing. Gov. Walz knows this, and that is why he has failed to defend his actions against legitimate arguments,” Munson said in a press release.
The lawsuit was filed on May 28 by four members of the New House Republican Caucus, the Free Minnesota Coalition, and at least eight businesses across the state. Nine more Republican lawmakers added their names to the complaint last week.
The lawsuit argues that the governor does not have the authority to “suspend the constitutional rights of Minnesotans.”
Specifically, the lawsuit claims Walz has exceeded his legal authority in a variety of ways, starting with his alleged violation of the “non-delegation doctrine,” since his executive orders are an “exercise of pure legislative power without judicial oversight.”
Additionally, Minnesota law does not authorize the governor to invoke emergency powers for public health purposes, the lawsuit contends.
A third argument claims that all of the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders are illegitimate because the statutory authority he relied upon (Minnesota Statutes 12.31) is unconstitutional. The statute is unconstitutional because it authorizes a legislative veto on the extension of peacetime emergencies, but the Minnesota Constitution does not provide for legislative veto powers.
In response to the lawsuit, the courts ordered the Walz administration to provide legal justification for its actions no later than June 18. According to Republicans, Walz did not address many of the arguments presented in their lawsuit, but claimed that his actions were constitutional because the pandemic was an “act of nature” rather than a public health crisis.
“Gov. Walz’s total failure to directly or adequately answer the substance of our arguments shows that his administration is an unconstitutional clown show. The governor rejected the premise of one of our arguments, and he blatantly disregarded the other two. If he was so sure his actions were constitutional, then he would have proved it yesterday. He did not,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa).
Now that the Walz administration has formally responded to the lawsuit, a hearing has been set for July 16. On that day, a Ramsey County District Court judge will determine if the lawsuit will proceed.
“It is in times of crisis that the foundation for future damaging laws are laid. Statute 12.31 was passed into law during a past crisis,” said Rep. Cal Bahr (R-East Bethel). “In a Constitutional Republic, no single person should ever have this much power.”
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