Churches And Businesses Take Walz To Federal Court Over Shutdowns

Lawyers say Walz's shutdown orders unfairly privilege box box retailers, while a member of the governor's staff alleges that efforts to reopen may be headed up by greedy churches.

A collection of Minnesota businesses and churches have sued Governor Tim Walz in federal court to end his economic shutdown.

The two churches and three businesses represented by the Upper Midwest Law Center claim that Walz’s executive orders to enforce statewide closures to combat coronavirus violate the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution. The plaintiffs filed their suit, Wednesday, with the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

The Law Center says that Walz’s shutdowns unfairly impact small businesses while leaving big box retailers like Walmart unscathed.

“Governor Walz’ scheme of selecting economic winners and losers by wholly shutting down some businesses while allowing others to remain open violates the Plaintiff businesses’ 14th Amendment due process and equal protection rights,” says Doug Seaton, a lawyer with the Center.

“Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS are open, while local Hallmark stores are closed. Golf courses and bait shops are open, but indoor amusement facilities are shut. Nobody can legally get a haircut, but dogs may now be groomed,” the Center adds, underscoring the unequal nature of the shutdown.

The Center also notes that their case is different than the one filed recently by the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition that has similar aims but is distinctly separate.

Not everybody supports the efforts of small businesses to oppose Walz’s months long shutdown. Brian Strub, a member of the governor’s staff, says that efforts by churches to reopen are motivated by greed and will endanger lives.

“Beware of any church suing to reopen, as they may be showing their true colors of caring more about the collection plate than about human life. This [the closures] is #prolife in 2020,” he wrote in a now deleted tweet.

Screenshot of Strub’s now deleted tweet.

Strub deleted his tweet after he was called out by the Minnesota Family Council  and Republican State Representative Jim Nash, who expressed his hope that the Walz administration would correct the staffer’s “outrageous” statement.

A reporter from Alpha News contacted Strub, asking why he deleted his tweet but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Strub is not alone in his opposition to the lawsuit.

“The virus has forced the state to take drastic action to keep Minnesotans safe, but it’s action that is within the Governor’s authority,” a Walz spokesman said Thursday responding to the lawsuit, per the Star Tribune. “It is also in line with federal guidance and similar to what many other states are doing. All of the Governor’s actions have been grounded in the need to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans.”

Walz originally planned to shut down the state’s economy starting March 17. After he issued two extensions, the governor’s shutdowns will now extend through May 18, leaving small business owners and their employees without work for over 60 days.

Kyle Hooten

Kyle Hooten is Managing Editor of Alpha News. His coverage of Minneapolis has been featured on television shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight and in print media outlets like the Wall Street Journal.