MVA Challenging Unconstitutional “Speech Code”
in Federal Court

We want to let you know that a court date has been set in our “Speech Code” lawsuit in federal court.

The hearing will be held on February 21, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. CST in U. S. District Court, 300 S. 4th St., Minneapolis, MN 55415, in Courtroom 13W. The Honorable Judge Nancy E. Brasel will preside.

The Court will hear arguments on defendants’ motions to dismiss and our motion for a preliminary injunction. The hearing is open to the public!


On September 11, 2023, the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) filed suit in U. S. District Court contesting the oppressive new elections provisions that restrict free speech around election-related issues, including speech about the eligibility to vote in Minnesota elections. The MVA is represented by the Upper Midwest Law Center and Liberty Justice Center.

The law, which took effect June 15, 2023, imposes criminal and civil penalties on individuals who knowingly make materially false statements within 60 days of an election with the intent to prevent another person from exercising their right to vote.

This deceptively commonsense-sounding law is written to appear to only protect voters from attempts to fool them with false information. The law is in fact constructed to do the opposite. The law’s undefined terms are left for specification by any partisan Attorney General or District Attorney who wishes to hammer a political or other opponent with criminal sanctions.

Plaintiffs, MVA, and three Minnesota citizens active in state politics, challenged the newly enacted provisions of Minn. Stat. § 211B.075 (the “Speech Code”), which potentially subjects anyone who expresses controversial views about Minnesota election laws to criminal prosecution, civil litigation from any member of the public, and even prior restraint on their speech.

Indeed, the law is such a perfect partisan weapon that it encourages officials to look around and select speech that can be claimed to be “false.” Charging (or threatening to charge) the crime, of course, accomplishes their political purpose, regardless of the ultimate finding of a court.

Defendants in this case are Keith Ellison, in his official capacity as Attorney General, Brad Johnson, in his official capacity as Anoka County Attorney.

The new law violates the First Amendment because it excessively restricts what people can and cannot say in political debate. Political speech is at the heart of the First Amendment, and people must be able to speak their minds without fearing a lawsuit from political enemies who falsely accuse them of lying.

Perhaps the best example of how this law can be abused is found in the counterclaim made to our lawsuit by the Anoka County Attorney. He asserts that the each of the plaintiffs “believes, says, and will continue to believe and say that felons still serving their sentences cannot vote under the Minnesota Constitution, within the State of Minnesota and within Anoka County.”

With that “evidence” of a so-called false statement, District Attorney Johnson asks the court to “enter an order:

1. Restraining Counterclaim Defendants (jointly and severally) from violating the provisions of Section 275B.011 in the future;

2. Assessing damages against Counterclaim Defendants (jointly and severally) for violations of Section 275B.011;

3. Awarding Johnson, in his capacity as Anoka County Attorney, his costs of investigation and attorneys' fees;

4. Imposing a civil penalty of $1,000 for each violation of the statute committed by the Counterclaim Defendants; and

5. Granting any further relief that the Court finds just and equitable.”

There you have it. Say what you believe and this law will make sure that vicious officials with power can bring down the weight of this law on your head, even while you are simply requesting that a court review the law itself.

Click here to read our latest Reply Brief