Coronavirus: Businesses, churches sue Gov. Walz over executive orders, calling them 'unconstitutional'

The lawsuit claims the orders "selectively" shut down the economy and violate their rights.

A federal lawsuit has been filed against Gov. Tim Walz related to his executive orders that have required certain businesses and other organizations to close during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

An indoor mini-golf course, a local chain of Hallmark stores, a salon business and two churches filed a 40-page lawsuit in federal court on May 6, calling for an end to Walz's "unconstitutional" executive orders, saying he is "selectively" shutting down the state's economy.

The lawsuit claims the executive orders violate First, Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The businesses and their owners have suffered "severe damages" as a result of the executive orders, which "allow others to operate despite the threat posed by their operation in the midst of COVID-19," the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit states worshipers can't go to in-person services, but liquor stores can be open. Big box stores and pharmacy chains are open, but local Hallmark stores have to be closed. Golf courses and bait shops are open, but indoor amusement facilities are closed. And people can't get a haircut at a salon, but dogs can be groomed.

The businesses and their owners listed as plaintiffs are:

  • Northland Baptist Church of St. Paul and Pastor John Bruski
  • Living Word Christian Center (LWCC) in Brooklyn Park, St. Paul and Rogers
  • Glow In One Mini Golf in Blaine and its owner Aaron Kessler
  • The AJ Hulse Company/18 | 8 Fine Men's Solans in Maple Grove and Wayzata and owners Andrew Hulse and Gay Bunch-Hulse
  • Myron's Cards and Gifts in Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Roseville, Blaine and Mankato, and owner Larry Evenson

In addition to naming Walz as an individual and in his official capacity in the lawsuit, it lists Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in their official capacities as defendants.

In a statement on the lawsuit, Attorney General Keith Ellison said: 

“Gov. 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 lawsuit requests a jury trial and is seeking relief for monetary damages and attorney fees.

It is also requesting an injunction on several of Walz's executive orders and declarations that the governor didn't have the authority to declare an emergency and that the defendants violated the plaintiffs' equal protection and due process rights, among other things.

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This is not the first lawsuit Gov. Walz has faced since he began issuing executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to KSTP, a group called the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition recently filed a similar lawsuit challenging the executive orders that close non-essential businesses, claiming it violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  

Bring Me The News has also reached out to the governor's office for comment.

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