Thursday, August 30, 2007

10th Circuit Dismisses Challenge To Polygamy Laws On Standing Grounds

In Bronson v. Swensen, (10th Cir., Aug. 29, 2007), the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed on jurisdictional and procedural grounds a constitutional challenge to Utah's polygamy laws. After a Salt Lake County, Utah Clerk of Courts refused to issue a marriage license for a polygamous marriage, the couple, along with the husband's existing first wife, filed suit claiming that the denial violated their free exercise, associational and substantive due process rights. The court, however, held that plaintiffs failed to adequately raise a challenge to Utah's civil polygamy statutes, and that they lacked standing to challenge the state's criminal prohibitions on polygamy. Among other reasons for a lack of standing, the court held that the state's current policy of not enforcing its criminal laws against polygamy removed any credible threat of prosecution in the future. Today's Salt Lake Tribune reported on the decision.