Brown Family To File Challenge To The Criminalization of Polygamy In Utah

As reported by The New York Times and National Public Radio, I will be traveling to Salt Lake City today to file (on Wednesday) a challenge to the Utah statute criminalizing bigamy and cohabitation. The lawsuit will be filed on behalf of my clients, the Brown family. The Browns are featured in the TLC program Sister Wives as an openly polygamous family.

The lawsuit will be filed in federal court in Salt Lake City on Wednesday and we will be available for questions at 1 p.m. outside of the courthouse.

The Plaintiffs are Kody Brown, Christine Brown, Janelle Brown, Meri Brown, and Robyn Sullivan.

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.”

We will post the complaint as soon as it is docketed by the Clerk of Court.

Jonathan Turley

156 thoughts on “Brown Family To File Challenge To The Criminalization of Polygamy In Utah”

  1. Pingback: Legal Articles
  2. oops and I misspelled Mormon… LOL And fyi, I do spell my name the same as Meri on the show… but I totally am NOT her… I would have killed Kody by now… lol chewed that man up and spit him right out again… I am a one woman man kind of gal…..

  3. This is my opinion on the matter, not that my opinion really matters. I am not Mormom… in fact far from it! I belong to a belief faction that would actually look very much down upon this lifestyle of choice… but I don’t always adopt a belief, or thought system, just because every one else does… I think for myself, and on this subject… am doing the same. If some states recognize same sex marriages, and all across this nation, males impregnate multiple women, and then leave them to raise the child/ren on their own, and several states advocate abortion, the murder of innocents in the womb… well, here is a man who is willing to step up and father his multiple children, husband the women the children are created with, and not getting abortions because they can never have too many children… this man genuinely loves his family, the women are all consenting, NO one has been forced into this situation, they are all consenting, willing parties in the arrangement. WHO are we to tell them they can’t be a multiple family when there are posers nation wide who beat their women they aren’t even married to, who leave fatherless children, and when there are women who abort their babies every day??? If it’s OK for them to do such horrible things, why cant it be ok for this man to just love his family, provide for them all, and have his more than one wife? I mean, personally, I can only handle one mate… lol! But hey, if he can take on multiples, more power to him!! And if the women are all OK with it and not trying to kill each other in jealousy… well, hey, even better! Here is a group of people providing safe, loving home for their children. SO WHAT, we don’t agree with it… we disagree with same sex marriages too. And with abortion, and with all the other crap… now I am just repeating myself…. you get the point… I think what he is doing is Way less wrong than all of that other stuff that I mentioned, and they are all legal in places, all across this nation… so, if people want to choose polygamy, I think it should be equally as OK… If they go to hell for it, that is between them and God. They are GROWN people… they know the difference between right and wrong. I say legalize it like all the other sins, and let them and God hash out the rest of the details… like whether or not it really IS a sin…

  4. KD, Phone your Momma, she needs you now. She has missed you since you came here. Please return at once, the Excalibur that you are using will die soon.

  5. Excuse me but how did this thread about polygamy turn into an economics argument? Oh…..Right……”it”…….did it again. To bowdlerize Bob, let’s stay in our own movie. Don’t feed the troll.

  6. To Bruce: Did you ever stop to think or process the thought that you don’t have a woman because of your condescending attitude? If you really honestly think that polygamy would lesson you ability to find a woman I am afraid that I will have to inform you that……. “It’s your attitude, and or behavior that you display that is the problem.” Signed a non polygamist.

  7. Here’s an angle for you who want to argue about alpha v. beta males, from my perspective as a public educator (docent) at an elephant seal rookery:

    An alpha male is one with a harem, which he successfully defends. Beta males also get to mate, by sneaking into a harem when the alpha is asleep or otherwise engaged, or by mating with a female when she is outside the harem.

    By extension, one could consider any human male who is married or has a serious girlfriend an alpha. One who engages only in casual, short-term relationships would be a beta.

    Not what you expected, huh?

  8. kderosa,

    I have a complete absence of taking anything you say seriously.

  9. @GeneH, that’s a rather unique reading of the English language and a complete lack of understanding of how how government works.

  10. Unluckily for you, I can’t sleep.

    “[T]he complete absence of government regulation” negates everything else you just said even if you bold faced it. “Complete absence” means none and a government cannot impose “taxes or tariffs other than what is necessary for the government to provide protection from coercion and theft and maintaining peace, and property rights” without regulations that both define the taxes, crimes and other prohibited activites. You’ve created a nice oxymoron though. It looks good on you.

  11. @GeneH

    Here’s the entire definition:

    Laissez-faire is synonymous with what was referred to as strict capitalist free market economy during the early and mid-19th century as an ideal to achieve. It is generally understood that the necessary components for the functioning of an idealized free market include the complete absence of government regulation, subsidies, artificial price pressures and government-granted monopolies (usually classified as coercive monopoly by free market advocates) and no taxes or tariffs other than what is necessary for the government to provide protection from coercion and theft and maintaining peace, and property rights.

    So it’s not no regulations or taxes. Taxes and regulations are always needed to provide for basic government functions, such as maintaining the peace, protecting against foreign invaders, and protecting property rights. Torts fall under property rights.

  12. @MASkeptic — Thank you for your courage in showing a real face of polyamory to others here. I know it’s never easy to challenge people’s assumptions like this. I also know that education and awareness are crucial to freedom and fairness for all. Thanks for your contributions here.

    @Arlene S. — I do not personally know whether the Brown family has an individual defense fund. They may. I do know, however, that there are several funds scattered about the country for legal defense in cases involving polyamory or other sexual minorities. (I’ve obscured some links somewhat just so this comment won’t end up in moderation limbo–hopefully!)

    You can designate donations to go to the “Legal Affairs Department” of the Polyamory Society:

    My understanding is that lawyer Valerie White runs a small non-profit called the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund. Her phone number is: 781-784-6114. The website appears to be down at the moment, but in case it’s just in limbo temporarily, here’s the address: www[dot]sfldef(dot)org/

    The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance is another organization that deals with cases such as these: www(dot)woodhullalliance[dot]org/

    There may be others, but to the best of my knowledge there is as yet no national or international clearinghouse for donations to a legal defense fund for polyamorous and/or polygamous cases.

  13. Either you can be pro-regulation or anti-regulation. You can’t be both. Selective regulation is just another form of anti-regulation. Laissez-faire economics is inherently anti-regulation. He’s your savior. You defend him. Show me where it says he does favor tort actions and safety regulations. Show me where it says he’s in favor of any kind of regulation. Keep in mind that the following speech is against consumer product safety regulation using the specious reasoning that because government fails to provide perfect protection it should leave product regulation to market mechanisms. It’s found on the von Mises website. It’s pure and utter crap and the guy giving it clearly has zero knowledge of the law or its role in society and his knowledge of history is terribly distorted by considering everything in the terms of profits. And he sure does love him some profits. His story about Ralph Nader, the Pinto and automotive safety is particularly funny if you know the history of automobiles but in particular the Tucker (hint: part of the reason the big car companies were out to destroy Tucker is he was building a much safer car than they were).

    I’m about bored of watching you chase your tale for the day. If you say something worth addressing, I’ll address it later. If you don’t, I won’t.

  14. @GeneH, the problem is that you don’t understand the “widely accepted” definition of lassiez faire. You, as is your wont, have extrapolated from the words to a ridiculous proposition. The distance between “not subject to laws” and “state controlled” is enormous. Your premise is faulty as all the conclusions you draw therefrom.

    I’ve given you what Von Mises’, in his own words, believed what laissez faire meant — free from Government planning and control, not free from all laws. Show me where Von Mises has stated that dangerous products athat injure people should be exempt from tort action or basic safety regulation. Or that employers who injure their workers shouldn’t be subject to tort action or basic safety regulation. Or where capitalists should be able to conspire to form cartels, trusts, and monopolies?

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