Skip to main content

Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. v. Township of Mahwah (D. N.J.)


On March 18, 2019, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. v. Township of Mahwah (D. N.J.), a case brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).  In September 2018, the Ramapough Mountain Indians, a Native American tribe, moved to file an amended complaint (“Complaint”) alleging RLUIPA claims against the Township of Mahwah, NJ (“Township”).  The complaint alleges that the Ramapough sought to worship communally and erect religious structures, including a sweat lodge and prayer circle, on their land, but that the Township tried to bar the tribe's worship practices by rescinding a zoning permit that authorized religious worship, limiting the number of people permitted on the property to worship, demanding the removal of structures central to the Ramapough’s worship, issuing large fines, and initiating civil and criminal enforcement proceedings.  The tribe also alleges that the Township treated it differently from other similarly situated nonreligious groups.  The Township opposed the Ramapough’s motion to amend, arguing that the complaint failed to allege facts sufficient to state claims under RLUIPA and that the RLUIPA claims were not ripe for judicial review.  The United States’ Statement of Interest argues that the facts alleged by the Ramapough state substantial burden and unequal treatment claims under RLUIPA.  The Statement of Interest further argues that the RLUIPA claims, which allege that the Township’s conduct has “significantly chilled Ramapough’s use of the land for religious purposes,” are ripe and can be heard by the court.  

Press Release (3/18/2019)   

Case Open Date
Case Name
Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. v. Township of Mahwah (D. N.J.)
  • RLUIPA; zoning permit; criminal enforcement; religious purposes; Native American tribe; religious structures; prayer circle; sweat lodge
Industry Code(s)
  • None
Updated August 16, 2022