Chicago, IL—On September 11th, the Liberty Justice Center (LJC) and the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) jointly launched a new case challenging a controversial new Minnesota law that criminalizes core political speech.
On March 5, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed House File 28. The law includes a provision allowing the state to prosecute anyone who expresses disfavored opinions about Minnesotan voting laws within 60 days of an election. The plaintiffs argue that House File 28 violates Minnesotans’ free speech rights by outlawing speech about undecided legal questions, such as whether the state’s constitution allows felons the right to vote before their sentences have ended, rather than afterwards.
The lead plaintiff in this case, Minnesota Voters Alliance, is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization that aims to increase public awareness of election-related issues and to increase voter participation in elections. Alongside several other concerned citizens, the group is challenging House File 28, arguing that the state’s criminalization of political discussion about elections violates the First Amendment.
The plaintiffs are represented jointly by the Liberty Justice Center, a national public interest law firm that litigates to protect constitutional rights throughout the country, and by the Upper Midwest Law Center, a leading public interest law firm fighting for the rights of Minnesotans.
“The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to discuss political matters freely. This right is especially crucial in discussions of election-related issues because the core of the right to free speech is the right to engage in the political process—including arguments about what rules do and should govern voting in our democracy,” said LJC Counsel Reilly Stephens. “Ultimately, the state of Minnesota has an obligation to defend citizens’ First Amendment rights, and we will hold them to that.”
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.”