Minnesota churches seek temporary restraining order to halt governor’s executive order

Minnesota churches seek temporary restraining order to halt governor’s executive order May 18, 2020

Another motion was filed on behalf of Minnesota churches requesting a temporary restraining order to suspend enforcement of Democratic Governor Tim Walz’s continued ban of churches holding in-person services.

The Upper Midwest Law Center, a Minnesota-based public interest law firm, which filed the motion, represents multiple Minnesota churches and small business owners in a lawsuit alleging the governor’s executive order is unconstitutional.

The motion was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, with an expedited hearing expected to be held within 10 days.

“Governor Walz’s newest version of his unilateral emergency shutdown order continues to violate the First Amendment by treating religious organizations as second class citizens,” Doug Seaton, Esq., President of the Upper Midwest Law Center, said in a prepared statement. “While no more than 10 attendees are permitted at any religious service, the governor’s new executive order allows virtually all retail businesses to open as long as their capacity is under 50% of maximum. So while it will now be easy once again to go shopping for home furnishings or new clothes on a Sunday, you still are not allowed to attend church, temple or mosque, even though those religious organizations are able to comply with exactly the same public health guidelines. It is clearly unconstitutional for the governor to allow people to go to the Mall of America but not Living Word Christian Center.”

Howard Root, Chair of the Upper Midwest Law Center, added that, “The First Amendment requires Governor Walz allow church services to operate according to the same public health guidelines he applies to secular activities in similar situations. Our motion for temporary restraining order on behalf of religious clients seeks an interim suspension of Governor Walz’s continuing shutdown on religious activities while our original lawsuit on behalf of multiple small businesses and religious organizations for permanent relief and compensation continues to progress through the court system.”

In recent cases filed by churches against a governor’s overreach, judges granted a restraining order on governors’ respective executive orders related to religious liberty in the states of Kentucky, North Carolina and Washington.

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