The Minnesota Attorney General's Office was asked Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court to respond to a petition filed by four members of the Fillmore County Amish community asking the nation's highest court to review a case about whether the government can force them to install a septic system when it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
The AG's office is representing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA had initially waived its response. In a letter sent from the Supreme Court Office of the Clerk, the agency was directed to respond on or before April 14, 2021.
A response has not been filed nor requested from Fillmore County, which is also named in the petition.
Through their attorney Brian Lipford, four members of the Fillmore County Swartzentruber Amish community filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Jan. 20, 2021, asking the high court to consider two questions under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act: Does the government have a compelling interest in regulating the disposal of "gray water," which includes laundry, bath and dishwater; and is a septic system the least restrictive method when 20 states allow mulch basin systems?
The petition comes after years of legal battles in Minnesota's courts against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Fillmore County over concerns that the agency and county were requiring the Amish to install wastewater systems for gray water that go against their religious beliefs.
The Yale Law School Clinic and attorneys from Sidley Austin, representing the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty and the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom, filed a brief in support of the petition asking the nation's high court to hear the case.
The petition was distributed for conference among the Supreme Court Justices on March 26, according to court records.