Today, we filed the complaint below in the challenge to Utah’s criminal polygamy law. I am still in Salt Lake City for the filing. With me today is our local counsel Adam Alba, an outstanding young attorney and one of my former students. As noted earlier, the lawsuit is on behalf of my clients, the Brown family. The Browns are featured in the TLC program Sister Wives as an openly polygamous family.
The Plaintiffs are Kody Brown, Christine Brown, Janelle Brown, Meri Brown, and Robyn Sullivan.
The Defendants are Governor Gary Herbert, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and County Attorney Jeffrey R. Buhman.
There are seven claims for relief:
Claim One: Due Process
Claim Two: Equal Protection
Claim Three: Free Exercise
Claim Four: Free Speech
Claim Five: Freedom of Association
Claim Six: Establishment of Religion
Claim Seven: 42 U.S.C. § 1983
As in past cases, I will have to be circumspect in what I say after the filing of this action. However, we are honored to represent the Brown family in this historic challenge,” said Professor Turley. “We believe that this case represents the strongest factual and legal basis for a challenge to the criminalization of polygamy ever filed in the federal courts. We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs. This action seeks to protect one of the defining principles of this country, what Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the right to be left alone.’ In that sense, it is a challenge designed to benefit not just polygamists but all citizens who wish to live their lives according to their own values – even if those values run counter to those of the majority in the state.
The following is the statement from Kody Brown, which will be the only statement at this time on the filing:
Statement of Kody Brown:
“There are tens of thousands of plural families in Utah and other states. We are one of those families. We only wish to live our private lives according to our beliefs. While we understand that this may be a long struggle in court, it has already been a long struggle for my family and other plural families to end the stereotypes and unfair treatment given consensual polygamy. We are indebted to Professor Turley and his team for their work and dedication. Together we hope to secure equal treatment with other families in the United States.”
Here is the complaint filed today: Brown Complaint