Breaking: Judge Rules Utah’s Anti-Polygamy Law Unconstitutional in Sister Wives Case (With Updates)

Breaking: Judge Rules Utah’s Anti-Polygamy Law Unconstitutional in Sister Wives Case (With Updates) December 13, 2013

Federal District Court Judge Clark Waddoup ruled today that Utah’s anti-polygamy laws violate the free exercise clause of the first amendment. The case is a particularly high profile because the Plaintiffs against the state of Utah are Kody Brown and his wives. The Browns are famous from their reality show Sister Wives on the cable network TLC.

The Browns (Source: TLC)

From the introduction to the 91 page ruling:

Before the court are the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment relating to Plaintiffs’ facial and as-applied constitutional challenges to Utah’s bigamy statute (…) Accordingly, in Part II below the court finds the Statute facially unconstitutional and therefore strikes the phrase “or cohabits with another person” as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and as without a rational basis under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, both in light of established Supreme Court precedent.

The full ruling can be found here.

The Brown family relocated to Las Vegas, NV because of their conflicts with the state of Utah.

Nate Oman, law professor at the College of William and Mary, tells Approaching Justice that the case will likely be appealed.

More updates to come here at Approaching Justice.

UPDATE: (12/13/13 7:34 p.m.) George Washington Univ. Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who was lead counsel for the Browns, has released a statement about the ruling on his blog.

UPDATE: (12/14/13 8:50 a.m.) Last night, I posted some legal and social background on the 1878 Reynolds v. United States Supreme Court Case.

UPDATE: (12/14/13 8:50 a.m.) Over at By Comment Consent, Kevin Barney offers some brief legal and historical comments on the ruling.

UPDATE: (12/14/13 10:10 a.m.) Approaching Justice shares the a response to the decision from polygamy researcher and author Brian C. Hales.

UPDATE: (12/14/13 10:15 a.m.) Loyola-Chicago Law Professor Sam Brunson looks at the tax implications of decriminalizing polygamy.

UPDATE: (12/14/13 4:58 p.m.) Patheos Catholic Channel blogger Leah Libresco chimes in on the case with her post “Hold Your Slippery Slope Toboggans!” at Unequally Yoked.

Click on this link for all coverage and commentary at Approaching Justice related to the Sister Wives ruling.

Browse Our Archives