Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Sister Wives" Challenge Utah's Ban on Polygamy

A lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Utah yesterday by the polygamous family featured on the TLC series "Sister Wives" challenging the constitutionality of Utah's statute which bars polygamy.  The complaint (full text) in Brown v. Herbert, (D UT, filed 7/13/3011) summarizes the claims of Kody Brown and his 4 wives as follows:
To the extent that Article III of the Utah State Constitution, Utah Code Ann. §30-1-2, and ... §30-1-4.1 are used as the basis for the criminalization of plural relationships or families, the Brown family seeks a declaration that these laws are unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment ... and the Free Exercixe, Establishment, Free Speech, and Freedom of Association Clauses of the Firat Amendment....
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, plaintiffs' lawyer filing the lawsuit-- George Washington University Prof. Jonathan Turley -- at a press conference said: "We can’t embrace privacy as a principle and pick and choose who can enjoy it."  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says polygamy is different because it involves not just consenting adults, but also their entire families. According to AP, Utah has not prosecuted  prosecuted anyone for polygamy under its bigamy statute since 2003. However, according to the complaint in the lawsuit, the Browns have been subject to criminal investigations in Utah.