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First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, once a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Jan 8, 2018

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. For more, listen at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


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; 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 travelling through Auburn be fitted with a…well…let’s call it a manure collection system.

The Amish believe that the ordinance is specifically targeting them and is, therefore, religious discrimination.

This will be an 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 manure stink, it takes a long time to degrade and transmits disease.

Either way, it’s an interesting lesson in how we balance religious liberty in America.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

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