The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a Mitchell County ordinance banning the use of steel wheels on county roads violates the constitutional rights of Mennonites. A Mennonite teen, Matthew Zimmerman, was fined in March 2010 after a magistrate judge found him guilty of violating the ordinance after he drove a steel-wheeled tractor on a county road.

Zimmerman’s family has argued that the ban interferes with the practice of their religion and challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance. After hearing oral arguments of the case during a special session held back in October in Mason City, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that the county’s goal of road preservation can be accomplished less restrictively without banning the tractors used by the Mennonites.

The court said the ordinance violated Zimmerman’s religious rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court reversed the decisions of the lower courts and remanded the case back to district court for entry of an order of dismissal.

See the full ruling here: Steel Wheels Ruling PDF

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City