The Commonwealth Court has ruled that connecting an Amish couple’s property to a municipal sewer system using an electric pump does not violate the couple’s religious freedo
The Commonwealth Court has ruled that connecting an Amish couple’s property to a municipal sewer system using an electric pump does not violate the couple’s religious freedom.
A split three-judge Commonwealth Court panel consisting of Judges Robert Simpson and Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini affirmed a Warren County trial court’s denial of the injunction requested by Joseph and Barbara Yoder. The Yoders asked the court to rule that they need not be required to connect to the sewer authority system through electric means. Judge Patricia A. McCullough filed a dissent.
The Yoders are Old Order Amish, meaning they eschew technology like automobiles and electricity. Currently the Yoders use an outhouse devoid of both running water and electricity at their Sugar Township home, according to Simpson’s majority opinion.
The plaintiffs have been involved in two separate litgiations over the sewer issue, including a class action over the constitutionality of the township’s mandatory connection ordinance, which provides that any property abutting Sugar Grove Area Sewer Authority pipes shall connect to the system. That class action was dismissed.
In the current case, the dispute centered on the means of connection: the electric pump. The trial court “weighed that moderate harm against the risk of using untested means of connection, noting the risk of malfunction of part of the sewer system posed a serious threat to public health…Read More