A judge will wait to make a ruling, on a challenge by Amish farmers to the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s Premise Registration law. Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jon Counsell heard a full day of testimony Wednesday, with roughly 100 members of the Amish community packed into a court room, and dozens others standing in the hallway.
Under questioning by Bonnie Wacsmuth, an attorney representing the farmers, Noah Schwartz, an Amish church bishop, said Premise ID could be a forerunner to the Mark of the Beast. “I can’t really define and say that this is actually the Mark of the Beast,” said Schwartz. “I do feel it’s probably at least a strong lead to such, and would not want to be involved in promoting a system which I think would lead to that.” And, Schwartz said, the law represented a shift of people’s trust from God to government. “I’d consider it an anti-Christ movement.”
The law, which went into effect in 2005, requires properties that have livestock be registered with the Department of Agriculture. The state alleges an Old Order Amish farmer from the Loyal area has not complied, and presented five witnesses in an effort to show there was a “compelling interest,” in this case an ability to combat a potentially crippling animal disease outbreak.
For the rule to pass muster, the judge will have to determine that interest trumps the Amish’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Judge Counsell did not issue a ruling. He gave Wacsmuth 30 days to submit a brief in support of her motion to dismiss the case. Clark County District Attorney Darwin Zwieg will then have 30 days to respond. The time limits will begin when the court reporter finishes the transcript, so it’s safe to assume a ruling could be months away.
WCCN’s Paul Knoff submitted this report