Let Them Play MN, a nonprofit with a Facebook group of over 23,000 members, filed a federal lawsuit this week against Gov. Tim Walz, whose ban on youth sports lacks scientific evidence or support, according to the group’s director.
A press release from Executive Director Dawn Gilman stated, “All of the information and data we’ve gathered demonstrates Gov. Walz’s decision to ban youth sports is not supported by data or science.”
“A mite hockey player, dropped off for practice fully dressed and heading straight onto the ice, is a whole lot safer at that practice than walking behind mom or dad through a crowded retail store,” Gilman said in the press release.
While she recognized the seriousness of COVID-19 and the need to look after those who are vulnerable, she also said “the Minnesota Department of Health’s own data shows youth sports don’t spread COVID.”
“Making a difficult year for kids even harder doesn’t make Minnesota safe,” she said.
The lawsuit claims state officials know the ban on youth sports is not supported by scientific data, but they “seek to avoid scrutiny by deploying scientific terms as a defensive veneer.”
“However, this facade crumbles under only minimal scrutiny. Minnesota’s youth must not be asked to bear a burden the State knows to be unnecessary,” states the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also points out that the governor’s executive order is “not without a certain irony,” since it bans youth sports while prohibiting “collective action by those who would dissent.” The plaintiffs claim Walz violates the First Amendment with his prohibition on “‘congregat[ing] together for a common or coordinated … purpose’ even if such protest is entirely safe and, in his words, ‘even if social distancing can be maintained.'”
Let Them Play MN is bringing this case to court because, as it was put in the November 2020 case of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, “even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
“Ignoring the obvious to provide a window dressing response to COVID doesn’t help achieve the legitimate goal of preventing the spread of COVID. Minnesota kids deserve better,” Gilman asserted.
The group is looking to have a judge hear its case as soon as possible and filed a motion Friday seeking immediate relief.