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Because racism, or something.

Via lib cesspool Think Progress:

Saying there is no such thing as a legal right to clean running water, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes dismissed a request from Detroit residents to impose a six-month moratorium on water shutoffs by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) on Monday.

The plaintiffs had argued last week that the DWSD shutoffs over delinquent water bills violated the human rights of impoverished citizens who had no ability to pay what the city says they owe, and who were left without access to clean water by the shutoff policy.

“There is no such right or law,” Rhodes said, according to the Detroit News. He also rejected the idea that citizens have a right to “service based on an ability to pay.”

Those remarks are notable because Rhodes didn’t even have to speak to the substance of the plaintiffs’ arguments. Bankruptcy law doesn’t give him the power to force the city to take the sort of action the plaintiffs requested, so Rhodes could have dismissed the request on simple procedural grounds.

By choosing instead to rebuke the notion that the health and safety implications of being cut off from running water service due to dire financial straits constitutes a violation of Detroiters’ rights, Rhodes positioned himself opposite the United Nations. After activists made a formal request for U.N. intervention in June, a trio of

U.N. experts called the DWSD’s aggressive approach to a multi-million-dollar backlog of water bills “a violation of the human right to water and other international rights.”

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on drinking water issues said that “when there is a genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections.” The city of Detroit has raised water rates by triple-digit percentages in recent years despite having one of the poorest customer bases in the country.

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