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Judge denies Let Them Play MN lawsuit related to youth sports

The group is appealing the judge's decision.

A federal judge has denied a group of parents' lawsuit against  Gov. Tim Walz over their right to protest the pause on youth sports. 

Let Them Play MN, which has more than 24,000 Facebook members, filed the lawsuit on Dec. 10 challenging Walz's executive order, saying it violated their First Amendment rights to protest the pause.

And on Friday, Judge John Tunheim denied their motion for a preliminary injunction because the lawsuit failed to prove the group's claims. The judge also denied the group's request for expedited discovery related to state COVID-19 data regarding youth sports. 

Tunheim wrote: 

"The state’s temporary restriction on social gatherings that is the subject of this challenge is another grim result of the rapid spread of a dangerous virus that has ravaged Minnesota as it has the United States and much of the world. No one is in favor of limiting cherished constitutional rights, nor should they be. But the State’s measured response, focused directly on the likely causes of the recent surge, satisfies judicial scrutiny. It is hoped that the restrictions on public activity will prove successful and brief."

Let Them Play MN is appealing the decision, MPR News' Brian Bakst tweeted. In a news release, the group said it has filed an emergency appeal asking for the court to overturn Tunheim's order and requesting a new judge, citing the judge's conflict of interest. 

“Gov. Walz’s ban on youth sports hurts 500,000 kids and does not slow the spread of COVID,” Dawn Gillman, founder of the group, said in a statement. “And the same executive orders forbid protests about our disagreement. Minnesota and Minnesota’s kids deserve better.”

Walz's latest executive order allows sports practices to resume on Jan. 4. No dates have been announced when games can resume.

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