This is a case about the values we put on citizen participation and oversight of the legislative process

Case Description

The ACLU of Minnesota participated as amicus curiae in a lawsuit challenging the method that the Minnesota Legislature used to adopt a controversial bill on handgun permits. This is a case about the values we put on citizen participation and oversight of the legislative process.

In our brief, we argued that the Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act (MCPPA), which was amended onto an unrelated DNR bill, violated the Minnesota constitutional requirement that each piece of legislation is related to a single subject. The Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the MCPPA violated the single-subject provision and severed it from the rest of the bill. In spite of four adverse court rulings against it, the State of Minnesota petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court for review of the case. The State dropped its appeal when the Legislature passed a stand-alone bill replacing the legislation that was struck down.

The plaintiffs in the case also raised a free exercise of religion claim, arguing that the law interfered with the ability of churches to ban weapons on their property and in their parking lots. They also argued that it interfered with their ability to choose the way in which they wished to communicate their desire to keep weapons off their property. Because the initial law was invalidated on other grounds, a district court and the Court of Appeals never reached the free exercise of religion claim. When the new law was passed, the plaintiffs again filed a lawsuit challenging the law. This time, the plaintiffs made their free exercise argument the centerpiece of their claim. The ACLU of Minnesota was prepared to participate as amicus curiae in support of the plaintiff's cause if the case would have gone to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.


Bill Pentelovitch and Dawn VanTassel from Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand LLP


Minnesota Court of Appeals