Hutterite colony takes workers comp fight to Supreme CourtPosted On: Apr. 8, 2013 12:00 AM CST
A religious colony is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take its case, arguing that Montana is attempting to force it to participate in the state's workers compensation system.
Big Sky Colony Inc. is a member colony of the Hutterian Brethren church, whose participants renounce private property and hold all their possessions in common, wear the same homemade clothing, and live in identical houses surrounding a communal nursery, school and dining hall, according to their court filing.
The Hutterites traditionally engaged in communal agricultural work, but then expanded into construction. Last year Montana's Supreme Court ruled that the group must purchase workers comp insurance for its members working in commercial enterprises.
Last week, the colony filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Montana high court decision.
In the case of Big Sky Colony Inc. v. Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the colony argues that “this case involves an attempt by the state of Montana to force a small religious community of Hutterites to participate in the state's workers compensation scheme, in direct violation of 500 years of Hutterite religious practice.”
The group also argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should review the Montana ruling because “the result is not only of immense practical importance to churches across the country, but also poses a very real threat to the continued survival of (500-year-old Hutterite) communities.”