Court denies motion to dismiss Amish hair-cutting case

Today a federal district court judge in Ohio, in the case of U.S. v. Mullet, denied a motion by Samuel Mullet, Sr., and other Amish to dismiss the Obama Administration’s charges against them under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  The defendants are accused of forcibly shaving the beards and cutting the hair of other Amish as a means of enforcing religious discipline.

CIR had filed an amicus brief in the case, in which we argued that the indictment exceeded the federal government’s authority under the Commerce Clause because the government failed to allege a sufficient connection between the acts charged (which occured entirely in the state of Ohio) and interstate commerce.

The court disagreed, holding that the hair-cutters’ use of scissors that had once traveled in interstate commerce, and the alleged perpetrators’ transportation within Ohio to the sites of the attacks in automobiles (which previously might have traveled across state lines), created a sufficient nexus with interstate commerce to support the indictment.

CIR has every intention of challenging the court’s decision later in the case.