An Amish group in Western Kentucky is claiming that the City of Auburn is targeting them with a horse manure ordinance. The question is, how should we balance religious liberty and health safety concerns in America
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In Western Kentucky, Amish residents have filed a lawsuit against the City of Auburn, alleging one of its ordinances imposes a burden upon the free exercise of their religion. The ordinance has been on the books for several years and dozens of Amish have been cited for violating the law. Some have paid the fine that comes with the violation, while others have refused in protest.
As you may know, the Amish live simply, refusing most modern conveniences including motor vehicles, as their religion teaches. Instead the Amish are known for driving their horse and buggy through town. And, where there are horses, there soon follows horse manure.
So, the city of Auburn passed an ordinance requiring that horses traveling through Auburn be fitted with a… well, let’s just call it a “manure collection system”.
The Amish believe that the ordinance is specifically targeting them, and is therefore religious discrimination.
This will be a very interesting case to watch. On the one hand, the ordinance in question has exceptions, so it is probably not a law generally applicable to everyone, which makes it more likely to be found in violation of the Constitution.
On the other hand, the City has a compelling justification for the ordinance – not only does mature stink, but it also takes a long time to degrade and transmits disease.
Either way, it’s an interesting lesson in how we balance Religious Liberty in America.
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