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Judge Rejects Ohio Amish Hate Crime Law Challenge

A judge has rejected a challenge of the federal hate crimes law by Amish defendants charged in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio. The defendants argue the alleged attacks last fall weren't hate crimes but internal church disciplinary matters not involving anti-Amish bias. The defendants also argue that the federal hate crime law violates their First Amendment rights of religious expression. U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster on Thursday dismissed those arguments, saying the religious beliefs of the victims, not the defendants, are what matter in the case. Polster also says nothing in the hate crime law prohibits it from covering acts of violence perpetrated by one religious group on another. The attorney pushing for the hate crime charges to be dropped did not immediately return a message Thursday.