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Mast v. County of Fillmore, Minnesota (Minnesota Ct. App, July 10, 2023) In Mast v. County of Fillmore, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the Amish community is not required to comply with county laws requiring the use of septic tanks in certain settings, finding that applying the laws to the community would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Read the full Opinion here.

Fillmore County law requires that landowners use a septic tank to dispose of “gray water,” water discharged after being used for dishwashing, laundry, bathing, and other tasks not involving toilet waste. The Amish community refused to abide by the local law, arguing that the use of certain technologies, such as the septic tanks, violates their religious beliefs. Under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, if land-use regulations substantially burden a claimant’s sincere exercise of religion, the government must demonstrate a compelling state interest in applying the regulation to the claimant. The Court found that application of the septic tank requirement substantially burdens the Amish community’s exercise of religion and that although the County showed a compelling interest in regulating grey water generally, the County failed to demonstrate a compelling interest in applying the requirement to the claimants. The Court prohibited the County from enforcing the septic tank requirement against the Amish community claimants. Read the full Opinion here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – February 15, 2023 

View all cases under “Constitutional Rights and the Public’s Health.”