Law firm requests temporary suspension of religious services shutdown in Minnesota

Published 8:10 am Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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MINNEAPOLIS – The Upper Midwest Law Center, a Minnesota-based public interest law firm, announced on Monday that it is filing a motion for a temporary restraining order to suspend enforcement of Gov. Tim Walz’s continuing shutdown of religious services in its federal lawsuit on behalf of multiple Minnesota churches and small business owners. The motion is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, with an expedited hearing expected to be held on the motion within 10 days.

“Gov. Walz’s newest version of his unilateral emergency shutdown order continues to violate the First Amendment by treating religious organizations as second class citizens,” said Doug Seaton, Esq., President of the Upper Midwest Law Center. “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 percent 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.”

“The First Amendment requires Gov. Walz allow church services to operate according to the same public health guidelines he applies to secular activities in similar situations,” said Howard Root, Chair of the Upper Midwest Law Center. “Our motion for a temporary restraining order on behalf of religious clients seeks an interim suspension of Gov. 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.”

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