Last edited: February 14, 2005

ACLU: Jesse Ventura Trying to Limit Ruling That Struck Down Sodomy Law

The Advocate, June 6, 2001

The American Civil Liberties Union is claiming that Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura is trying to limit the impact of a judge’s decision to overturn the state’s sodomy law as unconstitutional. Judge Deila F Pierce struck down Minnesota’s sodomy law last month, but now lawyers for the Ventura administration are arguing that the ruling should apply only to the seven people who sued rather than to the general population of the state. Lawyers for the Ventura administration plan to be in court Thursday to oppose ACLU efforts to get the lawsuit that overturned the sodomy law certified as a class-action suit, ACLU officials said. That formality would make certain that the ruling against the sodomy law would apply to all Minnesota residents. "The sodomy law has been declared unconstitutional, and the state has no good reason to say it should be unconstitutional for some people but not everyone," said Matt Coles, director of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "It’s a wake-up call that the government of Minnesota is actually asking a court to say the law is unconstitutional for six or seven people, but nobody else." Ventura was a named defendant in the case because the plaintiffs sued him and the attorney general as part of their lawsuit against the state of Minnesota. Ventura agreed with the judge’s ruling about the sodomy law when it was announced last month. "The judge’s action is consistent with the governor’s principle that there are certain things the government should not have a role in," Ventura spokesman John Wodele told the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. But days later the Ventura administration filed legal papers seeking to limit the ruling’s impact. In the papers the state argues that instead of certifying the case as a class action, the court should force the ACLU to amend the initial lawsuit to name all local law enforcement entities in the state as defendants. The ACLU is asking for the class-action certification to leave "absolutely no question" that all Minnesota residents are covered by Judge Pierce’s order. Ventura’s office did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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