A group of citizens who want to remove Minnesota’s governor from office took a substantial first step, Wednesday, towards ousting Governor Tim Walz via a constitutionally established process.
According to Section 6 Article 8 of the Minnesota Constitution, if a number of citizens greater than or equal to 25% of the number of people who participated in the last gubernatorial election sign a petition to recall Walz, a vote to remove the governor will occur. On Wednesday, the “Recall Walz” movement submitted a request to the Secretary of State to open such a petition in light of the governor’s allegedly illegal actions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the Secretary decides that the proposed petition is valid, he will send it to the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court who will facilitate a judicial review of the petition. If the petition passes judicial review, then a final petition to hold a recall vote will be distributed. If that petition receives the requisite 25% support, a statewide vote to recall Walz will be held that requires a simple majority to win.
The house research department has created a flowchart that visualizes this process.
According to poll counts from the 2018 election, about 610,000 Minnesotans would have to sign such a petition for recall in order for a vote to remove Walz to occur. This is only 10% of Minnesota’s overall population.
Proponents of recalling Walz contend that he “went beyond the scope of his emergency powers” during his response to the coronavirus. Further, the group says it can “prove he is guilty of malfeasance.”
Minnesota Statute 351.14 defines malfeasance as the “commission of an unlawful or wrongful act … in the performance of the officer’s duties that is substantially outside the scope of the authority of the officer and that substantially infringes on the rights of any person.”
Other parties have also accused the governor of violating the Minnesota constitution which doesn’t grant any exceptions to its usual limits on executive power during a peacetime emergency like the present COVID-19 pandemic. Proponents of this argument say that Walz’s sweeping executive orders have encroached on the role of the legislature.
Emergency powers do not void the Minnesota Bill of Rights, which is similar to the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Former US Congressman from Minnesota and current Republican senate canidate Jason Lewis also filed a suit against Walz in federal court recently that accuses the governor of violating several sections of the US Constitution.
According to Lewis’s official complaint, the governor’s stay at home orders and associated economic shutdowns violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV of the U.S. Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Note: This article was amended after publication to include more details about the recall process in Minnesota.