Polling Place Mask Mandate Challenged in Lawsuit

With the Minnesota primary mere days away on August 11, 2020, the state’s responsible voters are faced with a vexing conundrum in regard to mandatory facial masks. Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-81, prohibits appearing in public without a protective face mask. At the same time, Minnesota Statue 609.735, on the books since 1963, makes it against the law to wear a mask in a public place. A federal complaint, filed Tuesday, August 4, 2020, by the Minnesota Voters Alliance, the New House Republican Caucus and a group of independent Minnesota voters, seeks to nullify the governor’s mask mandate and was explained at an August 4 virtual press conference.

“The governor can’t have it both ways,” said Attorney Erick Kaardal. “His poorly thought out Executive Orders compel upstanding law-abiding citizens to wear face masks or face criminal fines, and in some circumstances, imprisonment. Those same individuals, complying with Walz’s order, are forced to violate longstanding Minnesota law, and by doing so commit a criminal act, punishable by up to 90 days imprisonment and/or a $1000 fine. With the specter of threatened prosecution hanging over those who show up barefaced at polls on primary election day, upstanding voters are faced only with the option of breaking another, well-established state law.”

This federal lawsuit brought by the MVA bears some resemblance to a case recently heard in Ramsey County District Court. There, the Free Minnesota Coalition, joined by the New House Republican Caucus argued that the governor’s emergency executive orders are not permitted by the Minnesota Constitution, which delineates clear, inviolable separation of powers and reserves creation of laws to the legislative branch. Plaintiffs in both lawsuits are represented by Kaardal.

The entire virtual press conference introducing the federal suit is presented, above.

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