Detroit Shutoffs to Continue After Judge Says Poor Have No Right to Water


By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos

Detroit water shutoffs can continue, thanks to the judge overseeing the city’s bankruptcy. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes was asked to block the shutoffs for six months, but refused. He not only refused, he took the opportunity to embrace the logic of the shutoffs:

Rhodes’s order served as a stinging rejection of arguments made by thousands of protesters who staged rallies last summer fighting shutoffs and argued that there is a fundamental right to water service.

“There is no such right or law,” Rhodes said.

Alan Pyke points out that:

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.

But a federal bankruptcy judge says poor people don’t have a right to water. Let them drink cake, I guess.

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Kos.