Appeals court tosses small businesses' lawsuit against Gov. Walz

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has thrown out a lawsuit against Gov. Tim Walz over forced business closures, but a federal lawsuit filed by a group of churches continues.

In the state case, a group of small businesses had filed suit accusing Walz of violating their equal-protection rights by forcing them to close when big box stores were allowed to stay open.

Tuesday afternoon, appeals court judges said the governor's executive orders under a peacetime emergency are not subject to their review. They did not weigh in on the constitutional claim.

Meanwhile, a group suing Walz on behalf of churches has withdrawn its request for a temporary restraining order after Walz announced that churches can reopen this week at limited capacity.

A hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. in federal court in St. Paul was canceled.

The underlying lawsuit continues, the Upper Midwest Law Center, the group that filed the lawsuit, said in a statement.

Over the weekend, the Walz administration said places of worship can open this week at 25 percent occupancy while following social distancing guidelines. The agreement headed off a showdown with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which had planned to reopen this week in defiance of Walz's limits on public gatherings.

Before that, places of worship were only allowed to hold in-person services with fewer than 10 people in attendance.