THE FLUORIDATION PLAN [specify ordinance currently at issue] IS NOT IN
CONFLICT WITH THE FEDERAL OR STATE CONSTITUTIONS, NOR IS IT IN
CONFLICT WITH [applicable state or federal laws].
[Specify fluoridation measure at issue] can be applied in conjunction wThe ith
the state and federal constitutions, and/or is not in conflict with [alleged
conflicting statute]. Several courts have considered attacks of this nature; most
have rejected them.
In Chapman v. Louisiana, 74 So.2d 142, 146 (La. 1954), the Supreme Court of
Louisiana considered the allegation made by the plaintiff that a fluoridation
ordinance violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States
Constitution. In rejecting this argument, the Court stated:
The Fourteenth Amendment does not deprive a state or its subdivisions of the
right to preserve order or to protect the health of the people under its police
power, and in the exercise of its power the legislative branch may interfere with
and impair the individual liberty of the citizens in a manner and to an extent
reasonably necessary for the public interest, and the courts will not interfere
except where the measures invade fundamental rights or are arbitrary,
oppressive, or unreasonable. Id.
The plaintiffs in Chapman also alleged that the city of Shreveport did not have
the authority to enact a fluoridation measure under the state constitution. The
district judge in Chapman had concluded that the city lacked the power to take
this action under its police power. The Supreme Court of Louisiana reversed
the decision, finding that the power to add fluorides to the public water could
be found within the charter of the city of Shreveport, which was enacted
pursuant to Article 14, § 37 of the Louisiana Constitution.
Id. at 145.
Other arguments advanced by opponents of water fluoridation have also
focused on the particular grant of authority the measure was enacted pursuant
to. In DeAryan v. Butler 260 P.2d 98 (Cal.App. 4
th Dist. 1953), the court
considered the assertion by a taxpayer of the affected county that in requiring
the fluoridation of city water the municipality had exceeded the powers
granted to it by charter. In making its decision, the court discussed the state
statutes governing the required quality of water, as well as the legislature’s
grant of authority to the city council to “regulate the purity, potability and
wholesomeness of public waters”. Id. at 101. The court explained that the
State Board of Health had concluded, after due consideration, that the
fluoridation requirements did not conflict with the required standards of water.
Therefore, the city council had not exceeded its authority as it had acted in
conjunction with state water standards.
Id. at 102.
Kaul v. City of Chehalis, 277 P.2d 352, 354 (Wash. 1954), involved a similar
attack by the plaintiff, a taxpayer and registered voter of the city, that the City
Council had exceeded its authority in adopting an ordinance providing for the
fluoridation of city water. The Supreme Court of Washington pointed out that
the state Constitution authorized cities to make sanitary and other regulations
as long as they did not conflict with other laws of the state.
Id. The court also
pointed out that a state statute, which could be read in conjunction with the
Constitution, gave the city the authority “to prevent the introduction and
spread of disease.” Id. The City of Chehalis’ ordinance was upheld, and the city
was allowed to proceed with its plans to add fluorides to the public water
supply. Id. at 356.
Recently, however, the Washington Supreme Court did strike down a resolution
mandating the fluoridation of certain water systems adopted by a county board
of health, finding that it irreconcilably conflicted with other statutes.[
Light & Water Co. v. Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health, 90 P.3d 37 (Wash.
2004)] A state statute in existence prior to the adoption of the resolution gave
water districts in the county the authority to decide whether to fluoridate their
systems. Id. at 40. The court held that the Board of Health resolution
conflicted with the state statute and was thus invalid.
Id. “Essentially, the
Board's resolution is a local regulation that prohibits what state law permits:
the ability of water districts to regulate the content and supply of their water
systems expressly granted to them by statute. The resolution ordering
fluoridation takes away any decision-making power from water districts with
respect to the content of their water systems, and the express statutory
authority granted to water districts pursuant to RCW 57.08.012 (the state
statute) would be rendered meaningless.”
The dissent in Parkland Light refers to the
Kaul decision, noting that it is still
good law, and that the majority in the
Parkland Light case came to the wrong
conclusion. “The majority incorrectly concludes that the legislature’s grant of
permissive authority to decide on fluoridation of their water
systems….However, the court should conclude that there is no conflict between
the Board’s resolution and RCW 57.08.012 having regard to the context and
legislative history.” Id. at 41.
Although the majority in the Parkland Light case did strike down the fluoridation
measure, that holding has no bearing on the present case. Here, [government
entity/agency] acted according to a valid delegation of legislative authority and
did not infringe any other agency’s authority in so acting.
Attaya v. Town of Gonzales, 192 So.2d 188 (La.App. 1
st. Cir. 1966), involved a
different kind of attack against the municipality’s authority to fluoridate the
water. In this case, citizens of the town alleged that defects in the form and
procedure followed in adopting the fluoridation ordinance should render the
ordinance invalid. Id. at 189. The city subsequently adopted a new ordinance
in full compliance with the required procedure. The court refused to consider
plaintiffs attacks regarding defects in procedure, citing as its reason that a
later valid ordinance existed on the record and would be considered as
controlling for purposes of the matter.
Id. at 190.
Still other arguments center on alleged conflicts between fluoridation measures
and specific statutes other than the state and federal constitutions. Like the
allegations that fluoridation measurers are unconstitutional, these arguments
have not fared well.
For example, in Dowell v. City of Tulsa, 273 P.2d 859, 864 (Okla. 1954), the
opponents alleged that a fluoridation measure violated a state statute
prohibiting the sale of food which contained fluorine compounds. In rejecting
the argument, the court explained that the fluoridation measure had set forth
specific regulations regarding the amount of fluoride to be added to the water
and was thus not unreasonable or a violation of the statute.
In Froncek v. City of Milwaukee, 69 N.W.2d 242, 251 (Wis. 1955), opponents of
a water fluoridation measure alleged that it violated the Federal Food, Drug,
and Cosmetic Act. The Froncek court rejected the argument, citing an opinion
of the U.S. Attorney General that the Act did not prevent the addition of
fluorides to municipal water supplies.
These cases are important because they reiterate the judiciary’s position that
actions taken by state legislatures pursuant to the broad powers granted to
them via the United States Constitution should not be disturbed by the courts
unless they can be found to be arbitrary or unreasonable.