The polygamist reality TV stars of “Sister Wives” can sleep easy tonight as a Federal Judge in Utah has struck down at least part of the State’s ban on polygamy.
The Utah ban made it illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison for anyone to cohabit with someone they are not legally married to. This part of the law was struck down by Federal Judge Clark Waddoups last December. At the time, the Judge let stand the part of the statute that makes it illegal to have more than one marriage license.
In his latest ruling this week, the Judge found that Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman had violated the constitutional rights of the Brown family when he investigated them for bigamy. The court ordered the County to pay for the court costs of the Brown family.
The Brown family attorney, Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University and a frequent television pundit, said, “For the state of Utah to appeal this case, it will ache to go to Denver and argue against freedom of religion.”
The State of Utah had to outlaw polygamy, quite common among the dominant Mormon faithful in Utah before Utah was allowed statehood. The state anticipated arrangements like the Browns, where polygamous arrangements were created without state-approved marriages.
Traditional marriage proponents have been mocked for asserting that same-sex marriage would inevitably lead to the legalization of polygamy. Professor Robert George of Princeton, along with Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation have argued that once the state eliminates the two gender rule for marriage, based upon the procreative nature of such couplings, there would be no remaining underlying principle to prevent any kind of marital arrangement, including polygamy.