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Fight against polygamy law taken to supreme court


JAHS

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Sister Wives' family takes fight over Utah polygamy law to US Supreme Court

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Utah family featured on the reality TV show "Sister Wives" took its fight over the state's polygamy law to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

Kody Brown and his four wives asked the nation's highest court to hear its appeal of a lower court ruling that went against them in April. The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal judge's decision striking down the cohabitation provision in Utah's polygamy law.

"The underlying rights of religious freedom and free speech are certainly too great to abandon after prevailing below in this case," the Browns' attorney Jonathan Turley wrote on his blog. "Equally important is the right for plural families to be heard in federal court, a right sharply curtailed by the 10th Circuit decision."

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups struck down key portions of Utah's polygamy laws as unconstitutional. He found the state's ban on polygamous cohabitation violated the Browns' religious freedom rights. Bigamy — obtaining multiple marriage licenses — remains a felony in Utah.

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

Sister Wives' family takes fight over Utah polygamy law to US Supreme Court

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Utah family featured on the reality TV show "Sister Wives" took its fight over the state's polygamy law to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

Kody Brown and his four wives asked the nation's highest court to hear its appeal of a lower court ruling that went against them in April. The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal judge's decision striking down the cohabitation provision in Utah's polygamy law.

"The underlying rights of religious freedom and free speech are certainly too great to abandon after prevailing below in this case," the Browns' attorney Jonathan Turley wrote on his blog. "Equally important is the right for plural families to be heard in federal court, a right sharply curtailed by the 10th Circuit decision."

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups struck down key portions of Utah's polygamy laws as unconstitutional. He found the state's ban on polygamous cohabitation violated the Browns' religious freedom rights. Bigamy — obtaining multiple marriage licenses — remains a felony in Utah.

I am guessing they will not hear the case but it would be interesting to see if they do.

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10 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I am guessing they will not hear the case but it would be interesting to see if they do.

I don't think they will hear it either; at least not now. I am sure they would consider it a waste of time with so many other issues more important and affecting more people. 

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It will be interesting to see if the church files an amicus brief for this case, as it did with the SSM cases. Considering the recent calls by church leaders encouraging members to speak out and get involved in protecting religious freedom, it would be a strong signal for the church to set an example by doing so in this case. 

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1 hour ago, Buckeye said:

It will be interesting to see if the church files an amicus brief for this case, as it did with the SSM cases. Considering the recent calls by church leaders encouraging members to speak out and get involved in protecting religious freedom, it would be a strong signal for the church to set an example by doing so in this case. 

That would be interesting to see. :rolleyes:

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4 hours ago, JAHS said:

I don't think they will hear it either; at least not now. I am sure they would consider it a waste of time with so many other issues more important and affecting more people. 

Given the growing Muslim population and the growing popularity of various forms of polyamory, I suspect if it was made legal it would end up affecting a greater percentage of the population than same sex marriage.

Edited by Calm
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57 minutes ago, Calm said:

Given the growing Muslim population and the growing popularity of various forms of polyamory, I suspect if it was made legal it would end up affecting a greater percentage of the population than same sex marriage.

Possibly but they are going to have to make a lot more noise about it before they really get recognized. They would need more support from the genreal public as well, which isn't happening right now.

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13 minutes ago, JAHS said:

Possibly but they are going to have to make a lot more noise about it before they really get recognized. They would need more support from the genreal public as well, which isn't happening right now.

? Since when does the degree of public support determine the constitutionality of an issue under consideration?

 

Is there a history of the Supreme Court ignoring issues for which there was only nominal public support? (I honestly don't know the answer to that question, and would appreciate a balanced response.)

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1 hour ago, notHagoth7 said:

? Since when does the degree of public support determine the constitutionality of an issue under consideration?

 

It doesn't. But it might determine whether or not the supreme court actually considers making a ruling on it.

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2 hours ago, notHagoth7 said:

Is there a history of the Supreme Court ignoring issues for which there was only nominal public support? (I honestly don't know the answer to that question, and would appreciate a balanced response.)

Yes it would be interesting to know how the supreme court actually prioritizes their casses and what make them decide to hear one or not.

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27 minutes ago, JAHS said:

Yes it would be interesting to know how the supreme court actually prioritizes their casses and what make them decide to hear one or not.

Here's what I've found so far - although it doesn't fully answer my q: 

Basically, four of the justices have to agree that the case should be heard.

" ...The court will typically grant the petitions of cases that are exceptionally unique and that present an issue of law that would be considered far-reaching throughout the United States. The Supreme Court also prefers cases that are clear examples for the lower court so that exact guidance can be given." http://law.freeadvice.com/litigation/appeals/supreme_court_case_hearing.htm

"...Your file will then go to a pool of Supreme Court clerks, who will review all of the documents, summarize them for the justices, and include a recommendation on whether to take the case. The justices then make a final decision...

Factors the Court Considers When Choosing Cases

Every year, the Supreme Court receives about 10,000 petitions for certiorari, but only hears about 80 of them. While no one really knows why some cases get heard but others do not, the Supreme Court has several factors that it considers when deciding what cases to hear:

  1. The Court will hear cases to resolve a conflict of law: The U.S. judicial system consists of 13 federal circuits and 50 state supreme courts. When a number of these courts reach different conclusions about an issue of federal or constitutional law, the Supreme Court may step in and decide the law so that all areas of the country can then operate under the same law.
  2. The Court will hear cases that are important: Sometimes the Court will consider a highly unusual case such as U.S. v Nixon (concerning the Watergate tapes) or Bush v. Gore (concerning the extremely close election in 2000), or a case with an important social issue, such as abortion in Roe v. Wade.
  3. The Court will sometimes hear cases that speak to the Justices' interests: Sometimes Justices give preference to cases that decide an issue in their favorite area of law.
  4. The Court hears cases when lower courts disregard past Supreme Court decisions: If a lower court blatantly disregards a past Supreme Court decision, the court may hear the case to correct the lower court, or alternatively, simply overrule the case without comment."

http://litigation.findlaw.com/legal-system/how-does-the-u-s-supreme-court-decide-whether-to-hear-a-case.html

Edited by notHagoth7
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18 minutes ago, notHagoth7 said:

exceptionally unique and that present an issue of law that would be considered far-reaching throughout the United States.

Well, polygamy is unique but I doubt it will ever be considered far-reaching throughout the US.

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Perhaps. Perhaps not. 

 

A few hours ago, Calm suggested the issue might impact more people than same-sex marriage, a matter which the Court recently did hear.

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I doubt that it will ever be heard, but I find it hard to come up with a good reason for polygamy as a practice to be illegal.
Abuses within polygamy (child marriages, welfare fraud, etc) sure, but I can't see any reason it needs to be illegal.

It's an outdated law that doesn't seem to serve a purpose, like those ones you read about on silly websites.

IN UTAH

  • It’s legal for restaurants to serve wine with meals, but only if you ask for the wine list.
    It is considered an offense to hunt whales.
    No one may have sex in the back of an ambulance if it is responding to an emergency call.
    It is against the law to fish from horseback.
    It is illegal not to drink milk.
    It is illegal to detonate any nuclear weapon.
    Birds have the right of way on all highways.
    A husband is responsible for every criminal act committed by his wife while she is in his presence.
    You’re not allowed to sell beverages containing more than 3.
    It is a felony to persistently tread on the cracks between paving stones on the sidewalk of a state highway.
    Alcohol may not be sold during an emergency.
    Individuals may not possess beer in containers larger than two liters unless they are a retailer.
    Boxing matches that allow biting are not allowed.
    It is illegal to cause a catastrophe.
    Daylight must be visible between partners on a dance floor.
    Only animal services officials and policemen may molest animals
    Persons are only allowed to keep one cow on their property

But polygamists will continue to live it legal or not.  Thousands of them in Utah and the surrounding states, and hundreds more elsewhere in the country.
 

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57 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I doubt that it will ever be heard, but I find it hard to come up with a good reason for polygamy as a practice to be illegal.

But polygamists will continue to live it legal or not.  Thousands of them in Utah and the surrounding states, and hundreds more elsewhere in the country.
 

I do not think this one will be heard either. It was initially dismissed because Utah was not attempting to enforce the law against them. It is a cohabitation law rather than a polygamy law, if I understand it correctly.

Calling them any of the people such as the Browns, polygamous is really incorrect, as there is only one civil marriage involved.

If the Browns (or any similar "families") are really serious about combating the polygamy laws, they need to have themselves married civilly and the marriages registered, then fight the deal head on. I am sure that there would be some enforcement action taken in whatever state the plural marriages occurred.

Glenn

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2 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

Calling them any of the people such as the Browns, polygamous is really incorrect, as there is only one civil marriage involved.

So the early members of the Church (Joseph and Brigham et al) weren't really polygamists?
Awesome.  That will solve so many issues for so many people

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12 hours ago, Buckeye said:

It will be interesting to see if the church files an amicus brief for this case, as it did with the SSM cases. Considering the recent calls by church leaders encouraging members to speak out and get involved in protecting religious freedom, it would be a strong signal for the church to set an example by doing so in this case. 

Amicus for which side?

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11 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

So the early members of the Church (Joseph and Brigham et al) weren't really polygamists?
Awesome.  That will solve so many issues for so many people

Not legally. Not until they began to register the marriages civilly. As far as I have been able to determine, none of the plural marriages entered into before the Saints emigrated to Utah were accompanied by civil ceremonies. That changed in Utah. Again, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the Utah Territorial Legislature never passed a law legalizing polygamy. The church just started more or less openly practicing it in 1852. It was at only at that point that I suspect that the polygamous marriages began to e registered civilly.

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43 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

So the LDS Church will file an amicus supporting the right to practice polygyny?  In your dreams . . .

That was my point. I would fall out of my chair in surprise were the church to file such a brief. But not filing it severely undercuts the church's purported interest in religious freedom. By the church's own definition, not to mention its own history, the practice of polygamy between consenting adults for religiously-motivated reasons is a core religious freedom that should be defended. And where else but Utah would the church have more sway to actually influence a change for such greater religious freedom?  That the church stays silent, or even opposes this freedom, makes it difficult to believe that the church's motivations are principled; they're just typical self-interest.

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5 hours ago, Buckeye said:

That was my point. I would fall out of my chair in surprise were the church to file such a brief. But not filing it severely undercuts the church's purported interest in religious freedom. By the church's own definition, not to mention its own history, the practice of polygamy between consenting adults for religiously-motivated reasons is a core religious freedom that should be defended. And where else but Utah would the church have more sway to actually influence a change for such greater religious freedom?  That the church stays silent, or even opposes this freedom, makes it difficult to believe that the church's motivations are principled; they're just typical self-interest.

The church has already been through a polygamy loss before the Supreme Court. But this is not really about polygamy. It is about unmarried cohabitation, and the Brown's are not even being charged.

Glenn

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6 hours ago, Buckeye said:

That was my point. I would fall out of my chair in surprise were the church to file such a brief. But not filing it severely undercuts the church's purported interest in religious freedom....

This.

Will be very interesting to see things unfold.

Edited by notHagoth7
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17 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

...and the Brown's are not even being charged.

Glenn

I recall reading of circumstances in which, regardless of whether or not a law is being enforced (in this case, whether or not the Browns are being charged), the existence of any such law itself (if the law is suspect of being unconstitutional) is reason enough to move forward with a trial to overturn such laws, whether or not charges are being actively filed...  Can't quite put my finger on it at the moment, but if anyone else knows of such, please feel free to share.

I hope the Brown's prevail.  I have long supported the LDS church's fundamental right to practice consensual polygamy without government intrusion, and I continue to support contemporary Faiths and non-Faith-affiliated individuals' right to engage in polygamous marriages.

If the LDS church were to file an amicus brief in support of the Browns, it would go a long way to showing that it's leaders are willing to put their money where their mouth is, regarding their numerous calls to defend religious freedom... but somehow, I doubt that will happen.  Unfortunately, from my perspective, the LDS church's actions in the recent past indicate that when they advocate supporting religious freedom, they're really only referring to preserving their own religious views, instead of protecting the freedoms of religions who disagree with their own LDS beliefs.

Edited by Daniel2
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