Cajune, et al. v. ISD 194 and Baumann
On August 6, 2021, the Upper Midwest Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the Lakeville Area School District, ISD 194, challenging the posting of Black Lives Matter posters on school property while refusing to post divergent views on race and social justice, such as All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter posters.
Lakeville claimed that the “Black Lives Matter” posters on school property were created based on input from some members of the Lakeville community. These posters include the message: “At Lakeville Area Schools we believe Black Lives Matter and stand with the social justice movement this statement represents. This poster is aligned to School Board policy and an unwavering commitment to our Black students, staff and community members.” …[Read More]
When UMLC client Bob Cajune asked that All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter posters be posted as well, Lakeville refused, claiming somehow that posters with those messages “were created specifically in opposition to Black Lives Matter” and that those messages “effectively discount the struggle the Black students have faced in our school buildings and that Black individuals face in our society as a whole”.
Not only is Lakeville’s position false, but Lakeville is promoting the political views of some of its community and refusing to allow alternative messages-a classic violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition on viewpoint discrimination in public fora.
Upper Midwest Law Center Representing Victims of Critical Race Theory Bullying and Retaliation
UMLC is prosecuting their charges before the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, and will proceed to federal court to assure they are given the justice they deserve.
Spann, et al. v. Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey
VICTORY: In a landmark victory for the Petitioners and the Upper Midwest Law Center, on July 1, 2021, the Hennepin County District Court issued a Writ of Mandamus which orders the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to “immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force” of at least 730 sworn officers, or more if required by the 2020 Census to be published later this year, by June 30, 2022.…[Read More]
The City had projected that the Minneapolis Police Department would only have 669 sworn officers as of June 1, 2022, so the order requires the City to take strong, immediate measures to increase its hiring substantially above what it had planned for 2021 and 2022.
The UMLC is confident that this victory will help restore peace and order for the Petitioners, eight Black and White residents of Minneapolis’ Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods on its embattled North Side, and all Minneapolitans. You can view the Order here.
On July 23, 2021, the City of Minneapolis asked the Minnesota Supreme Court for accelerated review of the District Court decision, arguing that the Judge failed to properly interpret the law.
UPDATE: On August 10, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Frey’s petition for accelerated review. That means the case will proceed as usual to the Court of Appeals, if the City continues its appeal. In the meantime, the 2020 Census will be out in September, and the City needs to take action now to hire the number of officers the Charter and Judge Anderson’s order require based on the 2020 Census. The order is attached.
Energy Policy Advocates v. Ellison (Ellison I & II)
VICTORY: On June 1, 2021, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision and handed a big victory to Energy Policy Advocates and the Upper Midwest Law Center. The Court of Appeals issued a precedential decision that rejected Attorney General Keith Ellison’s attempt to shield virtually all attorney general data from the public. The opinion requires Ellison to support his attempts to withhold data with real descriptions and evidence, and not broad and general claims of privilege. In addition, the Court of Appeals rejected Ellison’s reliance on broad and vague document descriptions to shield from discovery documents related to discussions with other attorneys general around the country regarding climate change lawsuits and other matters. To read the decision, click here.
Ellison II: On July 8, 2020 UMLC filed another action on behalf of Energy Policy Advocates against Attorney General Ellison seeking to obtain documents related to Bloomberg and the challenged attorneys regarding influence in a lawsuit against the energy industry.
Northland Baptist Church of St. Paul Minnesota, et al. v. Governor Tim Walz, et al. (COVID-19 Orders Case)
In the settlement, Governor Walz relinquished any authority to treat houses of worship in Minnesota worse than grocery and retail outlets or sports and entertainment venues, which was the case in the first set of COVID-19 orders that shut down Minnesota’s churches—but not Governor Walz’ favored few businesses. Now, if the Governor attempts to “dial back” and reimpose stricter COVID-19 restraints, houses of worship must receive as good or better treatment as Target or the Minnesota Twins.
This victory was made possible when Federal Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright held in an order on March 30 that the State’s COVID orders related to houses of worship were subject to the strictest scrutiny by the Court.
The settlement also preserves the right of appeal by the business plaintiffs in this case, which believe the state’s discrimination against them in favor of big businesses was unconstitutional and an illegal “taking” of their businesses. Judge Wright dismissed their claims, but the settlement provides for appeal of the denial of those equal protection and takings claims to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which the UMLC believes will reinstate those claims, too. Click here to view the original complaint and here to view the settlement agreement.
Huizenga et al. v. ISD 11 and Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota
The union filed a motion to dismiss, and the UMLC and its clients filed a motion for an injunction to stop the ongoing illegal use of local taxpayer dollars. On June 18, the District Court granted the union’s motion to dismiss, and UMLC immediately appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. UMLC expects its appeal to be heard later this year.
O’Neill v. Schowalter
Click here to view the petition.
Todd v. AFSCME Council 5 and Burns v. SEIU Local 284
In Todd’s case, AFSCME has gone so far as to use his forged signature to collect dues from him. Todd seeks an injunction against continued deductions and a refund of the dues unlawfully taken from him. Burns, Tomoson, and Gooding have been forced to pay union dues to the SEIU for years, despite never being advised of their First Amendment rights to not join a union and not subsidize political activity with which they disagree. They seek a refund of their dues payments. Click here to view the Todd complaint and related documents, and here to view the Burns, Tomoson, Gooding complaint.
In the Matter of the Clean Cars Minnesota Proposed Rule
On March 15, 2021, UMLC, again on behalf of CAE, submitted additional comments that show that the adoption of the mandates is bad for Minnesotans and illegal. UMLC also filed reply comments authored by Isaac Orr and Mitch Rolling on CAE’s behalf on June 24, 2021. Click here to view UMLC’s second set of comments, and here to view CAE’s comments.
On July 26, 2021, Governor Walz signed off on the Clean Cars standards, thus completing his end-run around the Minnesota Legislature in dictating car dealer inventories and raising car prices for Minnesotans. Upper Midwest Law Center is discussing an appeal with interested parties.
In the Matter of Xcel Energy’s 2020-2034 Upper Midwest Integrated Resource Plan
The comment period for this plan has been extended due to Xcel’s request for additional time to respond to UMLC/CAE’s and other’ comments. Xcel’s response is due June 25, 2021. UMLC will also represent American Experiment in any applicable appeals or challenges to a decision by the PUC.
Snell, et al. v. Governor Tim Walz, et al.
The lawsuit, brought as a quo warranto action, asks the court to order that Walz and co-Respondents Attorney General Ellison and Dakota County Attorney Backstrom show that the mask mandate and its enforcement are consistent with state law or to issue an injunction prohibiting the enforcement. The Ramsey County District Court dismissed the lawsuit, and UMLC appealed that decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in May 2021. UMLC filed its principal brief showing why the mask mandate violates the Minnesota Constitution on June 14, 2021, which you can view here.
Scheff Logging & Trucking, Inc. and Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota, Inc. v. Shawn Ray Etsitty and John Does (The Enbridge Pipeline Sabotage Case)
Hoekman v. Education Minnesota, et al.
Another post-Janus case representing Minnesota teachers, Hoekman, is well underway in the federal District of Minnesota against the teachers’ union. Our plaintiffs wish to recover dues paid to the union they do not support.
Prokes/Piekarski v. AFSCME Council 5, et al.
Brown et al. v. AFSCME Council 5 and Fellows et al. v. MAPE
As expected, the Hoekman, Prokes, Brown and Fellows cases were dismissed by the District Court, and our public employee clients appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. We are hopeful that the Eighth Circuit will reverse these decisions and reinstate our public employee clients’ claims for recovery of unconstitutionally withheld dues payments to government unions. These cases and several others around the country could ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court.