Dan Mast and Emanuel Miller have voluntarily dismissed their federal lawsuit against the City of Auburn, its Mayor Mike Hughes, and its Chief of Police, Larry Jones, all who were named as defendants in the lawsuit. Mast and Miller filed the suit in Logan Circuit Court at the end of last year. It was moved to U.S. District Court last month.
The two Amish men argued the city’s ordinance regarding collection devices on their horses violated their right to practice their religion.
The suit was the first time the Amish involved had claimed religious persecution regarding the years-long battle. It was noted beforehand by the Amish community that they did not wish to use the devices because it spooked their retired race horses and could possibly be a safety concern for themselves and others on the streets.
The City of Auburn has been wrestling with the Amish in and around Auburn over the horse manure issue for numerous years and previous administrations. There were handshake deals between the Amish community in the beginning to clean up after their horses, soon after complaints began coming into the city from those saying the poop was causing problems. Some of those complaints cited included: odor, manure sticking to tires, and safety concerns of pedestrians in crosswalks.
There are several Amish living in and around the City of Auburn, some belonging to the more conservative sect of the Swartzentruber community. The Swartzentruber Amish began to settle in Logan County in 2005-06. Not long after, former Auburn Mayor Dewey Roche presented members of the Amish community with equine diapers due to complaints regarding manure on the streets. From there it was said the Amish would scoop up the manure, but that did not last. The city council then passed an amendment to its animal ordinance requiring all large animals to have some sort of collection device to catch the manure if traveling through the city limits.
There have been dozens of Amish members cited for violating the amended ordinance over the past two years. Dan and his father Amos Mast spent over 10 days in the Logan County Detention Center for refusing to pay the fines associated with the citation. Some of the fines have been paid by anonymous individuals.
Travis Lock, one of the attorneys representing the Amish, said it was publicity that troubled the Amish causing the federal suit to be dismissed. There are still numerous cases pending, however, in Circuit Court challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. Those are to be heard in May.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.