Author Topic: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star  (Read 575 times)

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Offline flowers

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/14/us-usa-polygamy-sisterwives-idUSBRE9BD02720131214

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(Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge struck down a portion of Utah's bigamy laws as unconstitutional on Friday, siding with a reality television star and his four wives.

Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states. But Utah's law is unique in that a person can be found guilty not just for having two legal marriage licenses, but also for cohabiting with another adult in a marriage-like relationship when they are already legally married to someone else.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that the second aspect is too broad because it bars consenting adults from living together and criminalizes their intimate sexual relationships.

He said the law violates both the First Amendment's clause ensuring religious rights and the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause designed to ensure liberty.

The rest of Utah's bigamy law remains intact under the ruling, so only individuals who fraudulently obtain multiple marriage licenses would be guilty.

Utah is the headquarters state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, which abandoned polygamy in 1890 as Utah was seeking statehood. Some sects and breakaway groups, however, follow the early theological doctrine of plural marriage, thought to bring exaltation in heaven.

State attorneys have used the cohabitation portion of Utah's law to prosecute Utah polygamists for bigamy. It is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The ruling was a victory for Kody Brown and the four women he publicly lives with on the TLC television show "Sister Wives."

The family and their 17 children who formerly lived in Lehi, Utah, are members of the Apostolic United Brethren, a Utah-based church that follows plural marriage doctrine.

They fed to Nevada to avoid a bigamy prosecution after authorities launched a probe into their lifestyle.

No charges were ever brought, but Brown and his wives - Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn - launched a federal lawsuit in 2011 contending that Utah's ban on multiple marriage partners violated their right to privacy and criminalized their sexual relationships.

"COURAGEOUS"

Kody Brown praised Waddoups "courageous decision" in a statement on Friday evening.

"We hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs," Brown said.

Waddoups ruling amounted to a "victory not for polygamy but privacy in America," said family attorney Jonathan Turley.

In his ruling, Waddoups also said Utah had incorrectly equated private sexual relations between unmarried persons with marriage and used that as a basis for prosecution, many of which he called "random at best."

Virtually all of those charged had been engaged in religiously-motivated relationships, the judge said.

The Utah Attorney General's Office said it had not seen the ruling on Friday evening, adding that it would determine whether to appeal the decision.


Online EC

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2013, 01:47:00 PM »
Never understood the appeal of polygamy. One wife is more than enough!  :laugh: Polyandry, on the other hand - the husbands get to be nagged in shifts  :laugh:

Why weren't they using this law to deal with deadbeat baby daddys? Seems tailor made for those guys.
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Offline Cincinnatus

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 05:34:52 PM »
Inevitable. If two people of the same sex can marry why not multiple spouses of either sex and combination?

TV star? That guy is a "star"?
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Offline flowers

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2013, 06:18:19 PM »
Never understood the appeal of polygamy. One wife is more than enough!  :laugh: Polyandry, on the other hand - the husbands get to be nagged in shifts  :laugh:

Why weren't they using this law to deal with deadbeat baby daddys? Seems tailor made for those guys.
I do not want to imagine the hell it would be to have 1 husband and 3 other women than myself under one roof. NO way......ever!!!! 


Offline Luis Gonzalez

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 06:22:39 PM »
Laws banning religious polygamy are in conflict with the First Amendment.

This was a good ruling, and well overdue.
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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2013, 06:49:57 PM »
My wife can be like two different women.  Only drawback is she picks which one, not me.

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2013, 10:16:00 PM »
Quote
Utah's law is unique in that a person can be found guilty ... for cohabiting with another adult in a marriage-like relationship when they are already legally married to someone else.


In other words, Utah's law criminalizes adultery of the cohabitation variety.

That hardly makes it unique, however, because quite a few states still have laws on their books that criminalize adultery; those laws, of course, are rarely if ever enforced.  For example, in NY it is still technically a misdemeanor.  In some other states, e.g., MA, it's a felony.

That being said, the court's decision viz. the Fourteenth Amendment is probably sound on the basis of the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), in which it held that intimate consensual sexual conduct between adults was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.  That Lawrence dealt with consensual sex between two adults of the same gender should be irrelevant to the core holding in Lawrence, so the decision in this case would most likely be upheld by the Supreme Court for the reasons it articulated in Lawrence for invalidating state laws that criminalized sodomy in private between consenting adults of the same gender.

The First Amendment/free exercise part of this decision is on much more questionable ground. 

Offline olde north church

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2013, 06:21:29 AM »
Why do people pick and choose what traditions they want from the Bible?  You want Hellfire and damnations, you get a guy playing "hide the salami" from a choice of a different woman every night.  Never could understand that.  Well, actually I do but those folks won't admit it.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 06:22:23 AM by olde north church »
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Offline MBB1984

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2013, 09:16:34 AM »
I cannot recall the name of the case, but I recall one case involving the use of peyote in religious practices that the US Supreme Court held could be banned even though it was part of a religious practice.

Offline olde north church

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2013, 10:01:57 AM »
I cannot recall the name of the case, but I recall one case involving the use of peyote in religious practices that the US Supreme Court held could be banned even though it was part of a religious practice.

I think Indians can use peyote in their services, on the tribal land thing.
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Offline Luis Gonzalez

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2013, 10:19:46 AM »
I cannot recall the name of the case, but I recall one case involving the use of peyote in religious practices that the US Supreme Court held could be banned even though it was part of a religious practice.

Employment Division v. Smith (1990)

In a nutshell.

The ban on peyote wasn't a law specifically aimed at a physical act engaged in for a religious reason. The Court dubbed it a "neutral law of general applicability." and while Oregon had the power and ability to accommodate otherwise illegal acts performed as part of religious beliefs or ceremonies, it isn't obligated to do so.

The argument can be made that laws banning polygamy specifically targeted a religion that promoted polygamy as part of its tenets (Utah was forced to make polygamy illegal in order to join the Union), so I don't know that Employment Division v. Smith applies here.

The argument can also be made that laws against polygamy apply equally to everyone, insofar as no one can engage in polygamy, so they are not necessarily targeting a religious group, but then again, that would be similar to arguing that banning ritual circumcision does not amount to a violation of Jewish religious rights, since non-Jews are equally bound and restricted by the law.
“[Euthanasia] is what any State medical service has sooner or later got to face. If you are going to be kept alive in institutions run by and paid for by the State, you must accept the State’s right to economize when necessary …” The Ministry of Fear by Graham Green (New York: Penguin Books [1943] 2005, p. 165).

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2013, 10:55:24 AM »
Employment Division v. Smith (1990)

In a nutshell.

The ban on peyote wasn't a law specifically aimed at a physical act engaged in for a religious reason. The Court dubbed it a "neutral law of general applicability." and while Oregon had the power and ability to accommodate otherwise illegal acts performed as part of religious beliefs or ceremonies, it isn't obligated to do so.

The argument can be made that laws banning polygamy specifically targeted a religion that promoted polygamy as part of its tenets (Utah was forced to make polygamy illegal in order to join the Union), so I don't know that Employment Division v. Smith applies here.

The argument can also be made that laws against polygamy apply equally to everyone, insofar as no one can engage in polygamy, so they are not necessarily targeting a religious group, but then again, that would be similar to arguing that banning ritual circumcision does not amount to a violation of Jewish religious rights, since non-Jews are equally bound and restricted by the law.

Laws that do not on their faces discriminate between different groups of people can nonetheless be found unconstitutional if they discriminate between different groups of people "as applied."  Your hypothetical law banning circumcision could be subject to challenge on the ground that it was unconstitutional as applied.

Offline Luis Gonzalez

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2013, 11:10:21 AM »
Laws that do not on their faces discriminate between different groups of people can nonetheless be found unconstitutional if they discriminate between different groups of people "as applied."  Your hypothetical law banning circumcision could be subject to challenge on the ground that it was unconstitutional as applied.

Exactly.

Laws against religious polygamy enacted under the gun of acceptance into the Union are of questionable constitutionality.
“[Euthanasia] is what any State medical service has sooner or later got to face. If you are going to be kept alive in institutions run by and paid for by the State, you must accept the State’s right to economize when necessary …” The Ministry of Fear by Graham Green (New York: Penguin Books [1943] 2005, p. 165).

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2013, 11:23:45 AM »
Exactly.

Laws against religious polygamy enacted under the gun of acceptance into the Union are of questionable constitutionality.

I don't know, at least not on equal protection grounds, for the reason that they were enacted as part of negotiations similar to foreign negotiations and might be constitutional - or at least, not reviewable by a US court on the ground that it is a "political question" - because of the fact that it was required as a condition to becoming a state.

I'm not saying that they aren't questionable, they are; just that they aren't completely similar to other anti-polygamy laws in other states.  It would be an interesting challenge if the issue I mentioned above was raised; I'd love to see the Supreme Court address an issue like that.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 11:24:58 AM by Oceander »

Offline olde north church

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2013, 12:12:25 PM »
I didn't realize it until seeing a documentary about the state's shapes regarding how huge of a territory Utah was.  Deseret, the original territory, included parts of Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.  It was whittled down to the current size as precious metals and stones were discovered in those states.
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Offline Luis Gonzalez

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Re: Part of Utah's bigamy law struck down in victory for U.S. TV star
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2013, 12:40:40 PM »
I don't know, at least not on equal protection grounds, for the reason that they were enacted as part of negotiations similar to foreign negotiations and might be constitutional - or at least, not reviewable by a US court on the ground that it is a "political question" - because of the fact that it was required as a condition to becoming a state.

I'm not saying that they aren't questionable, they are; just that they aren't completely similar to other anti-polygamy laws in other states.  It would be an interesting challenge if the issue I mentioned above was raised; I'd love to see the Supreme Court address an issue like that.

It would be an interesting challenge.

Mormons settled in Utah to escape religious persecution, and religious persecution followed them into Statehood.
“[Euthanasia] is what any State medical service has sooner or later got to face. If you are going to be kept alive in institutions run by and paid for by the State, you must accept the State’s right to economize when necessary …” The Ministry of Fear by Graham Green (New York: Penguin Books [1943] 2005, p. 165).


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