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Michael Ramsey


15 Year Sentence for Amish Beard Cutting
Michael Ramsey

The New York Times reports that the principal figure in the Amish beard-cutting prosecution, 67-year-old Samuel Mullet, has received a 15 year federal sentence.  (The prosecutor had, though, asked for a life sentence).  My prior thoughts on the case are here and here.  In brief: to the extent the federal government is claiming a commerce clause power to act (as it appears it is), it's a test case for the seriousness of the Court's revivial of federalism.  Either this is a local crime, or there is no such thing as a local crime.

More from Jacob Sullum at Reason: How Sam Mullet, the Beard-Cutting Amish Bishop, Got Punished for his Religious Beliefs.  With this observation:

To federalize Mullet's crime, [federal prosecutor] Dettelbach cited absurdly tenuous connections to interstate commerce, including the beard trimmer, shears, and disposable camera used by Mullet's followers. They were all manufactured outside of Ohio, you see, so clearly this was a case that cried out for the Justice Department's attention. And did I mention that the beard-cutting fanatics mailed a letter at one point and even used a highway (although they never actually left the state)? I got your federal jurisdiction right here.