Steel(ers) Wheels Revisited

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about Matthew Zimmerman, a young Old Order Mennonite, who was embroiled in a fracas with Mitchell County up in northern Iowa when he was pulled over by the sheriff for driving his family tractor on a county road.

He wasn’t drinking or speeding.

It was the wheels.  Mitchell County passed an ordinance prohibiting steel wheels on hard-surface roads.  Only rubber wheels are allowed.  But for young Matthew and his family, their religious beliefs dictate that they use steel wheels.

Today, the case came to ahead as the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on the matter.  The Court ruled in favor of the Mennonites, overruling a district court ruling.

With today’s ruling and the Supreme Court sending the case back to district court, the question is still the same as it was when I posed it in March 2010:  should the laws and ordinances passed by the county or the state be applied to groups who are bound by their religious beliefs, just as they are to non-Mennonites and Amish?  Or do the Mennonites have a legit case to stand on, favoring the laws of their religion over that of Mitchell County?

From the look of it, the Court ruled that the Mennonites did have a legitimate case against Mitchell County.

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