The Amish generally prefer not to mess with the American legal system, but the Wisconsin left them no choice. Badger State authorities decided to make the Amish comply with regulations that made the registration of “livestock premises” mandatory. One farmer, Emanuel Miller, decided to fight back, claiming that the program infringed on his religious freedom. The Clark County Circuit Court saw it his way:
An Amish farmer in Clark County has won his fight against the state’s livestock registration law, which he argued violates his religious beliefs.
The case against Emanuel Miller Jr. of Loyal was the first in the state against an Amish farmer over refusal to obey the 2005 mandatory livestock registration law, aimed at controlling outbreaks of disease. It requires owners of premises where livestock is kept to register the location, number and type of livestock with the state.
Amish and other farmers around the nation have been following Miller’s case because of a fear that the law is the first step to the individual tagging of all livestock, a program once advanced by the federal government. Some Amish and others say such a numbering system would amount to the “mark of the beast,” which is referenced in the Book of Revelation as being related to Satan…If he registered his farm, Miller testified, he would be shunned by his church and risk eternal damnation.
The full ruling can be found here. This strikes us as sort of a big deal, since such arguments are likely to become more and more common as location-based technologies are rolled out en masse. A key to the Wisconsin court’s decision was its conclusion that Miller’s beliefs were genuine. We’re curious as to how other courts will determine if the similarly anti-technology views of non-Amish litigants are real, rather than a ruse to avoid supervision. How, exactly, do you look inside a person’s heart and make that distinction? Or can these protections only extend to people whose entire lifestyle amounts to one long act of devotion?