Walz faces another lawsuit asking to end 'unconstitutional shutdown orders' for small businesses, churches

Upper Midwest Law Center, a Minnesota-based public interest law firm, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of multiple Minnesota churches and small business owners to strike down Gov. Tim Walz's 'stay at home' emergency executive orders as "unconstitutional under the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution," a lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. To see a copy of the complaint, click here.

By posing other and different constitutional questions to a federal court, this lawsuit differs from a separate suit filed recently in the state appeals court by the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS examines lawsuit filed against Gov. Tim Walz challenging closure of non-essential businesses

The following are named plaintiffs in the case:

  • Northland Baptist Church of St. Paul, and Pastor John Bruski,
  • Living Word Christian Center,
  • Glow In One Mini Golf LLC in Blaine, and its owner and operator, Aaron Kessler,
  • Myron's Cards and Gifts, Inc., and its owner and operator Larry Evenson,
  • Andrew Hulse and Gay Bunch-Halse, owners and operators of 18 | 8 Fine Men's Salons in Maple Grove and Wayzata.

"Governor Walz's 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's 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."

Attorney General Keith Ellison provided the following statement:

"Governor Walz, the Executive Council, and I are sympathetic to the struggle of small businesses and houses of worship. We recognize that this is a difficult time for them and for everyone. Every Minnesotan does. But the Governor has issued his Executive Orders to protect the health of all Minnesotans — including these business owners and church leaders, their customers and parishioners — from a global pandemic that no one alive has ever lived through. He has also been responsive to circumstances and concerns as they emerge and has tailored his orders dynamically to meet them. I stand behind the legality and constitutionality of the Governor's Executive Orders and will strongly defend them in court. 

"My office hasn't seen this lawsuit yet, so I can't comment on the specifics. But I don't need to see the specifics of the lawsuit to know that it's a distraction from what we all need to be focused on — fighting the pandemic. If the plaintiffs want to choose filing a political lawsuit over working with us to chart a course to reopen Minnesota safely, they can. But let's be clear that they're choosing to play politics rather than focus on keeping people safe."

The Governor's Office provided the following statement on the lawsuit:

"The virus has forced the state to take drastic action to keep Minnesotans safe, but it's action that is within the Governor's authority. It is also in line with federal guidance and similar to what many other states are doing. All of the Governor's actions have been grounded in the need to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans, and he will continue to work to find ways to get Minnesotans back to work and to a place where they can safely gather in large groups."