Jonathan Turley reports that a federal district court judge in Utah has found unconstitutional a ban on polygamy–that is not seeking recognition by the state for polygamous marriages, but openly living in a plural family.
The Court struck down the provision as violating both the free exercise clause of the first amendment as well as the due process clause. The court specifically struck down language criminalizing cohabitation — the provision that is used to prosecute polygamists. The opinion is over 90 pages and constitutes a major constitutional ruling in protection of individual rights.
The decision affects a far greater range of such relationships than the form of polygamy practiced by the Browns. It is a victory not for polygamy but privacy in America. I wish to thank our legal team including our local counsel, Adam Alba, my students like Geoff Turley, my assistant Gina D’Andrea, and the many others who have assisted us through the years. I must also thank Judge Waddoups who showed remarkable principle and integrity in rendering this decision. This law has been challenged dozens of times in state and federal court over the many decades. It took singular courage to be the first court not only in this country but any recorded decision to strike down the criminalization of polygamy. In doing so, Judge Waddoups stood against prejudice and considerable hostility toward plural families. In a single ruling, he reaffirmed the wisdom of our Framers in creating a court with life tenure and independence under our constitutional system. While the Supreme Court is often credited with the recognition of basic rights, it is often forgotten how the true profile of courage is found among those lower court judges who stood against prejudice and anger to follow the rule of law. It will be an honor to defend this decision in any appeal by the State and we are prepared to do so as far as the Supreme Court to protect this legal breakthrough.
Here is a link to the opinion.