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Edina Community Lutheran Church v. State

January 13, 2004

EDINA COMMUNITY LUTHERAN CHURCH, ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. MC 03-008185

Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. In an action seeking to declare a state statute unconstitutional, a party's loss of certain rights inherent in property ownership and the impingement on a party's free exercise of religion under the Minnesota Constitution create a justiciable controversy that confers standing on the party challenging the statute.

2. When ruling on a motion for a temporary injunction, the district court must make sufficient findings to permit meaningful review.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Klaphake, Judge

Reversed and remanded

Anderson, Judge, concurring specially

OPINION

In this declaratory judgment action, appellants Edina Community Lutheran Church, church ministers Erik Strand and Pamela Fichenscher, and church member R. Daniel Rasmus*fn1 challenge the district court's order denying in part their motion for injunctive relief. Appellants allege that the district court erred by concluding that they lacked standing because there was no justiciable controversy and that it abused its discretion by refusing to enjoin enforcement of Minn. Stat. §§ 624.714 and 609.66, subd. 1d (Supp. 2003) (the act) as applying to appellants' parking lots, employees, and leased areas.

Because the act affects appellants' property rights and their right to free religious exercise under the Minnesota Constitution, an actual controversy exists that involves adverse interests and is capable of specific relief. We therefore conclude that appellants have standing to challenge the act, and we reverse that part of the district court's order. Because the district court failed to make findings that permit a meaningful review of its denial of temporary injunctive relief, we reverse and remand on this issue.

FACTS

The Edina Community Lutheran Church is a small congregation with a church building, a contiguous parking lot, and a parsonage that is leased to its pastor. As part of its religious mission, appellants lease Sunday school space and a playground to a child-care center. Worship services or church functions are occasionally held in parking areas or leased areas of the building; employees park in the church parking lot. The other plaintiffs joined in the amended complaint are also owners of property, including buildings and parking lots, employers, landlords, and operators of child-care centers.

On May 28, 2003, the Minnesota Citizens' Personal Protection Act of 2003, which is more popularly known as the "conceal and carry" law, became effective. See 2003 Minn. Laws ch. 28, art. 2, §§ 1-36 (now codified at Minn. Stat. §§ 624.714 and 609.66, subd. 1d). Appellants determined that the signage requirements and restrictions of the act that limit control of their church property conflict with their religious mission and worship practices. Appellants decided that they wanted to prohibit firearms from their building, parking areas, and leased spaces.

On May 29, 2003, appellants brought a declaratory judgment action, challenging the constitutionality of the act as applied to them and requesting a declaration that they can prohibit the possession of firearms on their property, including parking lots and leased premises, by whatever means they see fit to use. On June 6, 2003, the district court issued an order granting appellants' motion for a temporary injunction in part and denying it in part. Specifically, the district court temporarily enjoined that part of the statute that requires appellants to post a sign of specified size and typeface and to make an oral request to persons entering the building in order to ban firearms from the church building. Minn. Stat. ยง ...


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