You Know it is the Last Days when the Amish Folks are in Court Over a Buggy Issue

A group of Amish men who have spent time in jail for refusing to use a
reflective symbol on their horse-drawn buggies asked the Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday to grant them a religious exemption from using the orange triangles.

More than a dozen Amish men from western Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee
dressed in dark pants, vests and wide-brimmed hats attended the hearing
before the state’s highest court to hear attorneys argue the religious
freedom issue.

The western Kentucky Amish men from a conservative group known as
Swartzentruber will not use the slow-moving vehicle sign because they
say the color is gaudy and they depend on God, and not manmade symbols,
for their safety.

Justices on the high court questioned attorneys on whether highway
safety should be compromised over a group’s religious beliefs, but also
wondered if the triangles are superior to other methods of marking the
black buggies, like the reflective tape.

“Do we have any real evidence that this triangle that the law imposes
on the Swartzentruber family branch indeed does what it says what it’s
supposed to do?” Justice Mary C. Noble asked Assistant Attorney General
Christian Miller.

Miller said the sign draws attention to the buggy and can give a
motorist a split-second warning that can mean the difference between “a
35 mile-per-hour collision … and a 15 mile-per-hour collision.”

“There is something that needs to be on the back of those buggies to draw people’s attention,” Miller said.
American Civil Liberties Union
attorney Bill Sharp, an attorney for the Amish, said the law does not
require bicycle or horseback riders to use the triangles “yet a
six-foot-tall carriage that’s roughly the size of a compact car does
have to have one.”

If Kentucky’s high court doesn’t help them, state lawmakers could
change the law to protect the Amish mens’ religious beliefs. The
Kentucky House may soon vote on a bill that would allow the Amish to use
reflective tape instead of the triangles.

One of the Amish defendants, 40-year-old Jacob Gingerich of Mayfield,
has spent 16 days in jail for refusing to pay fines for violating the
slow moving vehicle law. Gingerich said Thursday after the hearing that
he hoped Kentucky’s high court was more receptive to their argument than
the state appeals court, which ruled last year that the Amish were not
entitled to an exemption for religious reasons.

Gingerich and the other men have racked up several violations of the
law dating back to 2007, when Gingerich was stopped by a state trooper
in Mayfield and given a citation for not displaying the orange triangle.

“I was out selling sweet corn and was on my way home,” Gingerich recalled.

In January, a district judge in Graves County jailed Gingerich and
eight other Amish men for three to 13 days for continuing to refuse to
pay fines for the violations. Gingerich’s fines exceeded $600. A group
of Amish men was also jailed in that county in September.

SOURCE: The Associated Press