The organization “Let Them Play MN” has filed an emergency appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the higher court to overturn the order of federal district court judge John Tunheim. Tunheim ruled late last week that Gov. Tim Walz is allowed to ban protests and youth sports. Tunheim’s ruling was on the legal merits and taken at face value, meaning that Tunheim believes that Walz doesn’t need to explain or give evidence in court for the bans.
Let Them Play MN has filed an emergency appeal to Tunheim’s ruling, alleging that Tunheim has a conflict of interest, and another judge should handle the case.
Tunheim’s wife is Kathy Tunheim, who has a company called Tunheim Partners, which was paid by Gov. Walz to aid the state’s communications related to COVID-19. Kathy Tunheim was also the chair of Walz’s committee that selected Tarek Tomes, who is now a “central witness” in the plaintiff’s case, according to Let Them Play MN.
Executive Director Dawn Gilman of Let Them Play MN said, “Gov. Walz’s ban on youth sports hurts 500,000 kids and does not slow the spread of COVID, and the same executive orders forbid protests about our disagreement … Minnesota’s kids deserve better.”
The group also accused Walz of banning youth sports by using false or misleading information and said their own evidence shows that playing youth sports is safer than not playing for the children involved, given the ill impacts of depression and risk of suicide that stems from complete lockdowns.
Judge Tunheim, 67 years old, was appointed by Bill Clinton in the 1990s and has a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. In 2005, he became chief judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.