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Environment & Energy Report

Supreme Court Won’t Take Up Flint Water Crisis Case

Jan. 21, 2020, 2:33 PM

The Supreme Court won’t review a closely watched civil rights case stemming from the Flint water crisis.

The justices on Tuesday rejected a petition for review from Flint, Mich., and local officials who want to block claims that they violated residents’ rights to “bodily integrity” by changing the local drinking water source in 2014 and exposing thousands of people to dangerously high levels of lead.

Bodily integrity, the right to have one’s body free from physical interference, is what’s called a substantive due process right—a fundamental protection acknowledged by courts but not spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

Flint lawyers warned the Supreme Court against allowing its “intentionally restrained” precedent on substantive due process rights to “be radically expanded to encompass judicially created environmental policy.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2019 ruled that Flint must face the residents’ claims.

The case is Flint, Mich. v. Guertin, U.S., No. 19-205, cert. denied 1/21/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Cheryl Saenz at csaenz@bloombergtax.com

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