State responds to U.S. Supreme Court petition in Amish gray water case

The state asked the nation's highest court not to take up the matter.

Gavel court crime stock

Attorneys representing the state's Pollution Control Agency have asked the U.S. Supreme court to deny the petition of four members of the Fillmore County Amish community arguing that a review by the nation's highest court would not change the outcome of the case.

The response comes nearly three months after 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 (RLUIPA): 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 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is represented by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. In its response, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency outlined three reasons the high court should deny the petition.

The MPCA argues that the four men waived their right to appeal the issue of whether the lower courts properly applied RLUIPA as they did not bring the issue to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The agency also argues that the Minnesota courts properly applied the "rigorous RLUIPA analysis required" by the high court. Third, the agency argues that additional review of the four men's case would not alter the demanding standard's set by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act overall nor would it change the outcome of their case.

There is no timeline by which the high court needs to make a decision.


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Emily Cutts is the Post Bulletin's public safety reporter. She joined the Post Bulletin in July 2018 after stints in Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
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