Minnesota, we have a problem revisited
I was very pleased to see that my recent Star Tribune op — Minnesota, we have a problem — generated not one but two day’s worth of replies. Sadly, many…
The Upper Midwest Law Center fights for clients against the ‘progressive’ agenda.
An activist fears for the safety of her friends and family. A salon owner was banned from cutting hair. And a pastor can’t even pray the way he wants.
Enter the Upper Midwest Law Center.
This Minnesota-based nonprofit organization provides essential legal services often out of reach for folks who only seek to enjoy the rights, liberties and freedoms envisioned by our Founding Fathers.
Doug Seaton, a longtime labor lawyer, founded UMLC two years ago while helping people he knew fight unions, getting donations to support the cause. Then he realized he needed something more broadly based and teamed with Center of the American Experiment Chairman Ron Eibensteiner and President John Hinderaker to make the law center a reality. (Both Hinderaker and Eibensteiner serve on the UMLC board.)
“We’ve got as bad a situation as anybody, as far as left-wing insanity goes,” he says, referring specifically to government and public union issues.
Seaton hopes to hire another litigator this year to join him and James Dickey, whose eight years of experience include a significant background in constitutional law. Seaton envisions his office someday becoming a staple of justice in Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas. But it all starts in the Twin Cities metro area, and the UMLC’s backyard is a hotbed of activity.
Take Cathy Spann, whose north Minneapolis neighborhood is still ravaged by violent crime after being burned and looted during the George Floyd riots.
In 2020, homicides were up 70 percent, gunshot victims up 105 percent, and carjackings 301 percent. And now the City Council is considering defunding the police, even though the number of available law enforcement officers is as low as 638, according to a recent Facebook post by Mayor Jacob Frey.
That’s about 100 below the minimum mandated in the City Charter, prompting UMLC to sue Minneapolis. The goal is to force Frey and the council to comply with their charter. “Criminals don’t hear, ‘Defund the police.’ What they’re thinking is, ‘There is no police,’” Spann says.
Their trial is set for April 22 and 23.
Two other clients, meanwhile, are waiting to find out if a judge will send their case to trial or to the Federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
One is Andrew Hulse, owner of 18/8 Fine Men’s Salons in Wayzata and Maple Grove. About 25 hard-working employees struggled to pay for food and essentials because Gov. Tim Walz shut down Hulse’s businesses while allowing others to stay open, even though hygiene standards at salons make them unlikely vectors of the coronavirus.
UMLC sued Walz, arguing he doesn’t have the power to pick winners and losers by shuttering Minnesota’s economy. Seaton and Dickey want the state to compensate Hulse for damages (although a specific amount has yet to be determined).
Finally, we have Pastor Mac Hammond of the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park. They are not seeking any damages. They only want to congregate in their house of worship.
No trial date has been set, but last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to stop a New York executive order from limiting attendance at worship services in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo. Will Minnesota’s governor respect this precedent?
He will, the UMLC believes, as Seaton and his team strive to fight for not only Hammond but more than a dozen other clients whose rights and liberties have been threatened.
“These are big cases,” Seaton says. “You can’t do these with a cookie cutter. You have to craft them carefully. We’ve got a lot to orchestrate.”