The Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new Minnesota law that restricts free speech around election-related issues, including speech about the eligibility to vote in Minnesota elections. The law, which took effect June 15, 2023, imposes criminal and civil penalties on individuals who knowingly make materially false statements within 60 days of an election with the intent to impede or prevent another person from exercising their right to vote. The penalties include fines and the potential to be sued by the Attorney General and county attorneys in civil court.
The plaintiffs in the case include the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) and several other grassroots political activists who argue that this new Speech Code potentially criminalizes political speech during a crucial time leading up to an election. Additionally, the new law poses a threat to political discourse and inhibits the democratic exchange of ideas.
Andy Cilek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, said: “We at Minnesota Voters Alliance continually provide Minnesotans important information about elections and election policy. This new speech code, which basically says “Don’t Say Felon” within 60 days of an election, is clearly aimed at shutting down our speech on election integrity issues. It cannot stand, and so we are bringing this lawsuit to uphold the First Amendment free-speech rights of the MVA and all Minnesotans.”
“This law violates the First Amendment because it tells people what they can and cannot say in political debate. Political speech is at the heart of the First Amendment, and our clients should be able to speak their minds on political issues without fearing a lawsuit from a political opponent who falsely accuses them of lying,” said UMLC Senior Trial Counsel James Dickey. “We seek to ensure that Minnesotans can exercise their constitutional rights freely without fear of criminal or civil penalties for simply expressing their opinions.”
Click here to view the full complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.
For more information about this lawsuit and UMLC’s mission to protect constitutional rights, visit UMLC.org.