Media access in one state: Notes on my lawsuit

I have brought a section 1983 lawsuit in federal court alleging that I have been unlawfully excluded from participation in the daily Minnesota Department of Health press briefings. I have of course reported on these press briefings in my Coronavirus in one state series. I embedded a copy of my complaint in my post on the lawsuit here. We have since amended the complaint to drop the Minnesota Department of Health as a defendant and to add MDH press flack Michael Schommer as a defendant. We have asserted the section 1983 claims against both Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Schommer in their official and in their individual capacities.

We have also filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief ordering Malcolm and Schommer to add me back in to the press briefings. Malcolm and Schommer have filed a motion to dismiss my complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The case has been assigned to Senior United States District Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul. Judge Frank has scheduled a 90-minute hearing on the two motions this Thursday morning. The hearing is to be held remotely via Zoom.

The MDH included me in the daily briefings and responded to my inquiries until April 27. Something happened on April 27. I infer from undisputed facts and documents that Malcolm, Schommer and others excluded me for political reasons. Malcolm and Schommer allege they were innocently applying neutral criteria that they implemented on April 27 after they forwarded my emailed questions to Governor Walz’s staff for further discussion.

I started writing the Coronavirus in one state series in the hope that focusing on Minnesota might illuminate larger phenomena in other states across the country. I hope and trust it has turned out that way for readers outside Minnesota. Indeed, I have heard from many readers who have written me to note that they have tracked down comparable data in their own states.

My lawsuit against Malcolm and Schommer raises basic First Amendment issues in the same context. The lawsuit has consumed me over the past two weeks and will continue to do so this week. Although it has drawn no media interest, I thought readers might want to know a bit more about it and they can get the news exclusively here on Power Line. I will add a few notes on the lawsuit in additional posts this week.

I wrote the sworn statement that supports the motion for preliminary injunction pending before Judge Frank. I have uploaded it without its 14 exhibits and embedded it below via Scribd.

2020-06-04 DKT 12_0 Declaration by Scott Johnson on Scribd

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