Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

November 4, 2012

Void but upheld

State surpreme court rules the old law constitutional

ASHLAND — While the law under which they were convicted has since been changed, the Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled the law that required a conservative Amish group to post orange safety symbols on horse-drawn buggies was constitutional and upheld the convictions of a group of Amish men who said displaying the bright triangles violated their religious convictions.

In a 5-2 ruling, the state supreme court held that the men’s convictions under the former law did not violate their religious freedom rights. Justice Will T. Scott noted in a dissenting opinion that 23 states and the District of Columbia do not require Amish horse-drawn buggies to display the triangles.

Scott referred to the amended Kentucky law passed in April, writing that the state legislature “has found an acceptable, less restrictive alternative to address its roadway safety concerns.”

Indeed it has. Working with the Amish, legislators reached a compromise which allows motorless vehicles the option of using a 1-inch wide reflective tape on the back and sides of the vehicle.

While safety was the main concern of legislators, the Amish men who refused to display the orange triangles that they considered “gaudy” insisted that their safety depends on God, and not manmade symbols.

In many ways, the court ruling was irrelevant. It merely upheld a law that no longer is in effect. That means the Amish men still will have to pay the fines.

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