Supreme Court rules in favor of Minnesota Amish in septic system fight

The Supreme Court said the Fillmore County, Minn., requirement infringes on the Amish community's religious freedom. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

July 3 (UPI) — The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of a Minnesota Amish community that opposed a county requirement to install a septic system to treat wastewater from their homes.

The Swartzentruber community members, who oppose the use of modern technologies due to their religion, fought the requirement by Fillmore County put in place in 2013. The septic system would filter and treat so-called gray water, which is left over from use in bathing, cooking and laundry.

The Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling requiring the Amish families to comply, saying it imposes on their religious freedom.

The community offered, instead, to install less sophisticated treatment systems that use woodchip-filled basins to filter the gray water. The county denied that as an option and threatened to declare their homes uninhabitable.

“County officials have subjected the Amish to threats of reprisals and inspections of their homes and farms,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority ruling. “They have attacked the sincerity of the Amish’s faith. In this country, neither the Amish nor anyone else should have to choose between their farms and their faith.”


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