Minnesota Secretary Of State - Court of Appeals blocks Mille Lacs County judge from undermining Restore the Vote law
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Court of Appeals blocks Mille Lacs County judge from undermining Restore the Vote law

November 2, 2023

SAINT PAUL  — Today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals granted two writs of prohibition against Mille Lacs County Judge Matthew M. Quinn. Judge Quinn attempted to rule the Restore the Vote Act unconstitutional and bar from voting several individuals who were convicted of felonies but sentenced only to probation. The court ruled that Judge Quinn overstepped his authority. Restore the Vote remains the law of the land and the defendants in question cannot be barred from voting as long as they meet all eligibility requirements.

Attorney General Keith Ellison issued the following statement in response to today’s ruling:

“As your Attorney General, it’s my job to help Minnesotans live with dignity, safety, and respect, and voting is an exercise of dignity. I am pleased the Court of Appeals ruled against one judge’s unjustified and unprompted attack on the right to vote and the dignity of Minnesotans. Today’s decision is a victory for our democracy and our entire judicial system. This incident serves as a reminder that the right to vote is precious and often hard-won. I encourage all eligible Minnesotans, particularly those who were formerly incarcerated, to register to vote and vote in our upcoming elections.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon issued the following statement in response to today’s ruling:

“I’m thankful that the Court of Appeals quickly resolved this important issue. Minnesotans cherish the right to vote, and it’s unacceptable for any person to throw that right into question through an abuse of authority. With voting in local elections going on now, and with a major presidential election contest just around the corner, I will continue to stand up for the rights of all eligible voters to make their voices heard.”

The writs were requested by the public defender representing the individuals who Judge Quinn tried to bar from voting. Attorney General Ellison moved quickly to intervene in the case to support the writs and defend these individuals’ freedom to vote, with the support of Secretary of Steve Steve Simon.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals agreed with the petitioners and the Attorney General that “the district court exceeded its lawful authority by independently raising and deciding an issue involving the constitutionality of a statute without the issue being raised by a party.” In doing so, “the district court violated the principle of party presentation, which recognizes that parties raise the issues that matter to them, and courts perform ‘the role of neutral arbiter’ and ‘should not’ look ‘for wrongs to right,’ but ‘wait for cases to come to [them].’ Greenlaw v. United States, 554 U.S. 237, 244 (Minn. 2008).”