Sister Wives Hearing Today

240px-sister_wives_tv_series_logoToday, the federal court in Salt Lake City will hear final arguments in the Sister Wives case. The hearing on the motions (here and here) for summary judgment will be heard on Thursday, January 17th at the federal courthouse in Room 102 at 3:30 pm before Judge Clark Waddoups. Previously the court ruled against two efforts by the state to dismiss the case. The Brown family has challenged Utah Code Ann. § 76-7-101 (West 2010) under seven constitutional claims, including due process, equal protection, free speech, free association, free exercise, the establishment of religion, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

As lead counsel, I am limited in what I can say about the case publicly beyond the statement below.

On behalf of the legal team (including our local counsel Adam Alba and our team of Geoff Turley, Matthew Radler and Gina D’Andrea), I want to express our gratitude to the court in bringing this case to the final argument of the merits. It has been an honor to argue this civil rights case on behalf of the Brown family and, by extension, the tens of thousands of other plural families in this state. They are seeking what most families take for granted: the ability to structure their families and their lives according to their own values and beliefs. The state has acknowledged that this family has neither committed any crime nor sought multiple marriage licenses. They have been declared to be felons under state law simply because they choose to live as one family. The Browns have not questioned the right of the state to limit its recognition of marriage and to prosecute those citizens who secure multiple marriage licenses from the state. Rather they are challenging the right of the state to declare either cohabitation or plural relationships between consenting adults to be a felony. We remain hopeful about the outcome of these trial proceedings and remain committed to continue this work on behalf of the Brown family and thousands of other families seeking to live according to their own values.

Jonathan Turley, Lead counsel for the Brown family

Kody Brown has made the following statement on behalf of the Brown family:

“On behalf of the entire Brown family, I want to thank Judge Waddoups for this opportunity to argue the merits of our case. We understand that this is a historic moment for all plural families and we are honored and humbled to serve as the plaintiffs in this action. We are especially grateful for the support of our counsel, Professor Jonathan Turley, Adam Alba, the students at George Washington University, and the many supporters who have stood by us over the course of this litigation. This has been a difficult road for us and we are relieved to see the case coming to the final arguments. We remained committed to this civil rights cause and the struggle of plural families, both religious and non-religious, in the state. We hope that Utahans can understand that our family – like tens of thousands in this state – are seeking only to be allowed to live according to our beliefs and not be declared felons simply because we are different.”

Here is the last filing in the case: Brown.Opposition.Summary Judgment.FinalMaster

17 thoughts on “Sister Wives Hearing Today

  1. I hope it goes well…. If this in indeed the practice that they follow….. Then why should the government interfere….

    I don’t worship chickens…. But the 5th circuit said they could….. Sangriaist or something like that….

  2. Our governments, citizens and many religious institutions continue to confuse what are two inherently distinct concepts: civil union of two persons, with all of the legal rights and privileges that follow such as the right to inherit property, and religious marriage, which should have no legal significance. It is a shame that the former is also labeled “marriage.” I am a Christian and enjoy both unions with the same partner, but I do not believe that the government should inflict religion on anyone — it is, or should be, free choice to embrace all or any of religion’s trappings. I believe that the Constitution, when not distorted or plain disregarded by Justice Scalia and his minions, agrees with this latter point.

  3. Which movie is this:

    The Attack of The Secular Bible Thumpers

    or …

    The Attack of the We Want To Be In First Place In Your Bloomers Licensing AgencyThe issue is not whether I agree with polygamy or not (never tried it) or whether you agree with it or not.

    The issue is who governs the adult consensual behavior in private bedrooms?

    I utterly and totally agree with Professor Turley and his team’s theory of the case.

    One case, Lawrence v Texas is clear and is convincing to me.

    May the domination seeking peep holers lose and may the free people win.

  4. … corrected comment …

    Which movie is this:

    The Attack of The Secular Bible Thumpers …

    or …

    The Attack of the We Want To Be In First Place In Your Bloomers Licensing Agency

    The issue is not whether I agree with polygamy or not (never tried it) or whether you agree with it or not.

    The issue is who governs the adult consensual behavior in private bedrooms?

    I utterly and totally agree with Professor Turley and his team’s theory of the case.

    One case above all others, Lawrence v Texas is clear, dispositive, and is convincing to me.

    May the domination seeking peep holers lose and may the free people win.

  5. nick spinelli 1, January 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Dredd, Come on..don’t tell me you’ve never peeped in a hole!
    ===========================================
    Never.

    What is it like?

  6. My inclination in this case would be to focus on the liberty and right of privacy issues and avoid the religious ones presumably predicated on the First Amendment religious prongs. Griswold is mentioned in the Memo in Opposition to the state’s summary judgment motion.

    I think that the pltfs will win a motion for summary judgment because the state has done a terrible job. The statute allows the state to outlaw things that certain folks dont like. Utah is basically a pirate territory.

    A better plaintiff would have been a hippie male with five live in hippy women and a brood of children. No religion involved in the life choices.
    As in Roe v. Wade and in Griswold, the right to privacy issues are not predicated upon some religious right of a woman to her own body. It is her inherent human right to her own body. This case would be a lot cleaner if it had arisen in Connecticut and was solely cast in non religious articles of faith. If they prosecuted me for living without some state license, with five women, whether sisters or not or in the absence of five weddings, I would Take The Ninth.

    Utah seems more like some Islamic pirate territory than a state in the union.
    I would not live there, go there and if I fly over I will flush.

  7. Anonymously Yours 1, January 17, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Dredd,

    I’ve got an inquiring mind…. And I want to know too….
    =======================================
    Me too.

    Come on Nick, tell us what it is like. ;)

  8. Well Gents, I’ve used pinhole cameras to videotape people but not peering through a hole. The pinhole cameras were concealed in hats, eyeglass cases, etc. but the taping was in public places like bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, etc. When I first started buying those cameras they were close to 1k. Now, you can get them for $50!

  9. Caught “totally disabled” dogasses working under the table bartending for cash. Plaintiff asking for 500k for crippling back injuries diving, sliding and doing flips in a hotel pool. A plaintiff claiming severe head injury allegedly requiring 2 canes to ambulate and serious cognitive loss bowling freely[one 210 game] and keeping score. This was back when there were only automatic scorekeeping in city bowling centers. Many of the bowling centers I did surveillance were 6-12 lanes in small towns. One of the more dramatic was a “totally disabled” car mechanic working in the pits for a stock car driver. They work hard and really fast. There are many more but that gives you an idea. mespo never had clients like these. All his are forthright and honest. I did domestic work when I first started out but gave that up quickly..before pinhole cameras existed. I started doing surveillance w/ 35mm cameras. Video cameras[those big mofos] came out a few years into my career. Pinhole cameras ~10 years later.

  10. Utah seems more like some Islamic pirate territory than a state in the union.

    Actually, the reason why Utah has its anti-polygamy laws is because it was a precondition to being admitted into the Union. The Mormons fled New York State to Missouri and then to Utah over persecution for their religious beliefs, primarily centering on polygamy. It was the US federal government that ordered Utah to put anti-polygamy laws on their books.

    BTW I am not a Mormon, but I have read some about their history.

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