Saturday, December 20, 2008

Amish Landowner Loses In Prosecution for Refusing To Install Septic System

In State of Ohio v. Bontrager, (OH Munic. Ct., June 24, 2008), decided several months ago by the Trumbull County, Ohio Municipal Court, but just made available online, an Amish man lost his battle with county Board of Health officials. Adam Bontrager refused to install a required septic system on his property because it would require the use of electricity which was prohibited by his religious beliefs. In defending criminal charges brought against him, Bontrager argued that the free exercise provisions of Ohio's Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 7) protected him. The court held that while Ohio applies strict scrutiny even to neutral laws of general application, here the state had a compelling interest in prohibiting the discharge of untreated sewage. Bontrager was convicted and fined $50.