GOP lawsuit against Walz emergency tossed out

“If the governor may wield autocratic power as long as a virus exists, he may do so until the end of time, because a virus, once introduced into the human population may persist forever."

Image created by The Minnesota Sun.

A lawsuit by 13 state GOP legislators and the Free Minnesota Coalition has been dismissed in Ramsey County District Court.

The case alleged that Gov. Tim Walz had illegally taken power from the Legislature by not allowing it to vote on Walz’s strict — and, according to critics, politicized — coronavirus mandates. That’s because the Legislature never voted for the mandates, and only a majority of both the Senate and the House can undo Walz’s mandates.

In dismissing the suit, Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan, who was appointed by former Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014, ruled that the individual legislators didn’t have legal standing in the case, though the judge did not rule out the Free Minnesota Coalition’s ability to sue.

The 13 legislators — Reps. Steve Drazkowski, Tim Miller, Cal Bahr, Jeremy Munson, Shane Mekeland, Mary Franson, Eric Lucero, Joe McDonald, Jeff Backer, and Glenn Gruenhagen, as well as Sens. Scott Jensen, Mike Goggin, and Andrew Mathews — have vowed to fight on, and have set up a “Go Fund Me” account to receive donations for future legal efforts.

Rep. Drazkowski pointed out that there are two crises — one constitutional and one due to the economic devastation caused by the shutdown. He believes the democratically-elected Legislature, most subject to the immediate will of the people, should have a say in policy moving forward.

A press release from the Free Minnesota Coalition, an organization led by Dan McGrath, said that the ruling allows the governor to “continue to bypass the legislative process indefinitely.”

“Besides being largely in conflict with the state constitution, Minnesota’s emergency powers act was written to cope with immediate, short-term emergencies. The Legislature explicitly rejected attempts to amend the act to include public health as a reason to invoke it,” the group said in a statement.

“If the governor may wield autocratic power as long as a virus exists, he may do so until the end of time, because a virus, once introduced into the human population may persist forever. The governor’s peacetime emergency is now nearing six months. No Governor in history has held on to these kinds of extraordinary peacetime emergency powers for nearly as long as Gov. Walz has to date,” the statement continued.

Free Minnesota announced it will immediately appeal, as the group believes something of this consequence requires the governor to seek the approval of the Legislature.

Rep. Cal Bahr noted that “there are still other court decisions we are waiting on regarding Gov. Walz’s power.”

“There is a hearing in federal court on September 21 which will also take up the matter of Gov. Walz writing his own laws, appropriating funds, and operating as a dictator,” he said. “The Minnesota people cannot sit still while our constitutional rights are destroyed.”