Updated: August 04, 2020 07:54 PM
Created: August 04, 2020 06:23 PM
The Minnesota Voters Alliance filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of a mask mandate issued by Gov. Tim Walz. The order took effect on July 25 and requires Minnesotans to wear masks in most indoor spaces, including shopping malls, offices, health clubs and grocery stores.
The lawsuit says the mandate is unconstitutional because it contradicts existing state law dating to 1963 that prohibits wearing masks in most public places.
"The governor is trying to have it both ways," says attorney Erick Kaardal, who represents the Minnesota Voters Alliance. "His poorly thought out executive orders compel upstanding, law-abiding citizens to wear a face mask or face criminal fines and in some cases imprisonment. Those same individuals complying with Walz's order are forced to violate long-standing Minnesota law and by doing so commit a criminal act punishable by up to 90 days imprisonment and a thousand dollar fine."
A spokesman for Walz says his legal counsel specifically addressed the conflicting laws by including a clause that specifically says wearing a mask would not be a violation of the existing state law prohibiting masks.
Attorney General Keith Ellison also weighed in on the lawsuit.
"The Governor has issued his executive orders to protect the health of all Minnesotans from the worst global pandemic in a century," Ellison said in a written statement. "He's been responsive to circumstances and concerns as they emerge and has tailored his orders dynamically to meet them. My office and I review every executive order for its compliance with the law and state and federal constitutions. I stand behind the legality and constitutionality of this executive order. We will defend it strongly in court just as we have so far successfully defended others in court."
The lawsuit is supported by some Minnesota House Republicans, including Rep. Jeremy Munson, of Lake Crystal.
"We're not debating the science behind the mask," Munson says. "We're really talking about the legislative process and the abuse of power by the governor to usurp the legislature in writing laws."
Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company