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. Wrongway Feldman:

    Your comment, albeit off topic, was nonetheless interesting in it own right.

  2. Whoops I just noticed the topic was polygamy and not polylogism.

    My bad sorry for the intrusion.

  3. Polylogism is the doctrine that there is not one correct logic, one correct method of reasoning necessarily binding on all men, but that there are many logics, each valid for some men and invalid for the others. The polylogist divides men into groups, and holds that each group has by nature (or creates for itself by choice) its own distinctive method of inference based on its own distinctive logical laws, so that the inferences that are entirely logical for one group are entirely illogical for the others . . .

    On the polylogist view, there is no common or universal logic to serve as the objective standard and arbiter when men disagree. There is no way for members of opposing groups, with opposing views, to resolve their disputes; it is useless to appeal to facts or to evidence for this purpose, since the minds which engage in the process of reasoning obey different rules of thinking.

    In the Nazi version of polylogism, . . . there is Aryan logic, British logic, Jewish logic, etc., and these give rise respectively to Aryan truth, British truth, Jewish truth, etc . . . . The movement that first launched the doctrine of polylogism in a culturally influential form [is] Marxism. Aware of the fact that communism cannot be defended by reason, the Marxists proceeded to turn the fallacy of ad hominem into a formal philosophic doctrine, claiming that logic varies with men’s economic class, and that objections to communist doctrine may be dismissed as expressions of “bourgeois logic.” Thus, vilification of an opponent replaces analysis of his argument . . . .

    Actually, polylogism is not a theory of logic—it is a denial of logic. The polylogist invests “logic” with the character of a mystic revelation, and turns logic into its antithesis: instead of being the means of validating objectively men’s claims to knowledge, logic becomes a subjective device to be used to “justify” anything anyone wishes..

  4. Does the state have regulation and education requirements for non-polygamous relationships? Wouldn’t that be an equal protection violation? Would you support education and regulation requirements for gay relationships/marriages? Or straight relationships/marriages? Isn’t that kind of intrusive?

    I’m seeing a lot of concerns that these forms of relationships might be bad for women. Perhaps they are. Though women tend to be hypergamous by nature and in this respect different than men (those who believe in evolution and evolutionary physchology should know what I’m talking about). Now that feminism has given women more mating/dating options young women seem to be naturally forming these polygamous relationships as part of their dating/mating strategy as they pursue the highest value alpha males since the alpha males don’t really seem very compelled to any sort of “committment.”

    No one has brought up the one party that will definititely lose out if these sort of relationships are legalized: the beta males, who will be left without mates.

    That alone is a good reason to keep this issue as a policy issue that should be decided as part of our democratic process and not foreclosed due to Constitutional shenanigans.

  5. Scarecrow:

    I’m sure you are correct that there are a range of polygamous relationships from the functional to the truly dysfunctional. To that extent they sound like non-polygamous families. My point was simply that this arrangement is a trap for the naive,lonely, and those with low self-esteem. Hence my call for education and regulation to make sure the choice is truly a knowing one. I support no burden on the right to associate, merely that those in need of protection from the unscrupulous be protected to the largest extent we can.

  6. Geebe Geeba,

    “Sister Wives” cast and D.C. law professor Jonathan Turley head to federal
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/reliable-source/post/sister-wives-cast-and-dc-law-professor-jonathan-turley-head-to-federal-court/2011/07/12/gIQARr0JBI_blog.html

    Excerpt:
    Turley is not asking the state to recognize polygamy, just challenging its right to prosecute lifestyle choices. “I have long argued against these type of laws that criminalize private relations between consenting adults,” he told us. And yes — he’s representing the Browns pro bono.

  7. “And let’s face it. JT’s doing this for the $$ and to see the car crashes in court. He really doesn’t believe all this kaakaadoodie. Be real.”

    In 2004 Professor Turley stated:

    “The First Amendment was designed to protect the least popular and least powerful among us. When the high court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence vs. Texas, we ended decades of the use of criminal laws to persecute gays. However, this recent change was brought about in part by the greater acceptance of gay men and lesbians into society, including openly gay politicians and popular TV characters.”

    …and went on to say:

    “I personally detest polygamy. Yet if we yield to our impulse and single out one hated minority, the First Amendment becomes little more than hype and we become little more than hypocrites. For my part, I would rather have a neighbor with different spouses than a country with different standards for its citizens.”

    I would suggest that his motives might be a little more honorable than you have indicated, and that he is interested in defending what he believes to be a constitutional right. I hope that is real enough for you.

  8. Geeba…I didn’t miss anything, and my comments about your incoherent rant had nothing to do with Professor Turley’s statements, it was directed solely at you. I find it interesting that Professor Turley chose you to be his spokesperson on this matter…or were you simply taking personal license? It has always been my observation that Professor Turley has been very capable of expressing himself quite succinctly. If someone was to speak on my behalf without my permission I would be quite incensed.

    When you make unintelligent incoherent statements such as “I hope you get a nice paycheck to support your family and pay lots of taxes with new corporate jets.” and then go on a rant that is essentially irrelevant to the blog you are going to receive a little criticism. (I hope I didn’t inadvertently use any words that are too big for you)

  9. Dearest Scarecrow, I believe you missed the main point of JT’s argument. I’ll use small words. His point is that it should be ok for people in a “family” to do as they please. Let me quote JT’s statement way up there in the beginning of this blog:

    “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.”

    So it’s not just about polygamy. It’s to say “my behavior, no matter how aberrant to convention, needs equal protection.”
    So who’s the sober one now? I’m glad I was one of the bloggers you found to be interesting. I suggest you might sharpen that attention span. I say this in all doo-doo respect.

    And let’s face it. JT’s doing this for the $$ and to see the car crashes in court. He really doesn’t believe all this kaakaadoodie. Be real.

  10. Prof. Turley: an interesting cause – good luck with the case. I wanted to know what, if any, connection you have to Utah and/or Mormonism. I ask only because you seem to cover a number of Mormon news items, and it would be interesting to understand if your history influenced your decision to take this case.
    Thanks!

  11. Best wishes Mr. Turley.

    When people no longer have to hide their relationships the public will be exposed to numerous successful polygamous families. They will see for themselves that these families are not that dissimilar from their own. It would be nice if the government wasn’t in the “marriage” business at all but simply registered unions between consenting adults as they see fit to form them, much like a businesses which can have a president and one or more vice presidents.

    @ Bruce: I can only assume that you argue from ignorance. Using your logic it is easy to see that all the extra women that don’t have a husband due to gay marriage would be picked up by men practicing polygamy and everyone would be happily married! Problem solved! Think about your argument for a minute…if you can’t find a girl it is more likely due to character flaws than anything else. Polygamy would give a single girl the opportunity to marry the man of her choice…even if someone else found him before she did – no more need for affairs – no more politicians, businessmen, and preachers to be reviled when they take additional wives instead of sneaking around hiding their relationships and eventually destroying their careers.

    @ stardustcluod Legalizing polygamy actually solves most of the “abuse of the system” issues.

    @ Thomas: It is interesting that a man can “live in sin” and have children with as many girl friends as he desires without concern for any legal persecution, yet if that same man wishes to legally take responsibility for his wives he becomes a criminal.

    @ Neil: Marriage is between consenting adults. No mention anywhere that I know of indicates that polygamy and bestiality are related whatsoever. Why are those opposed to polygamy so determined to link it with homosexuality and bestiality when there is no connection at all? Are they that desperate for a legitimate argument?

    @ mespo: There are numerous ways a polygamous family can function just as there are numerous ways monogamous marriages function. Don’t think all polygamous families mirror the Browns. When polygamy is decriminalized it is likely that many successful and happy polygamous families will emerge from the shadows and people will be surprised to find that most of them are just normal people like everyone else.

    @Geeba: WOW…ummm…wow…siblings screwing each other…screwing your own children…running around like dogs in heat…I thought the topic was about polygamy not incest, and fornication. Polygamy does not encompass any of the things you brought up…try again, next time sober.

    It is always interesting to see the emotional outbursts and the typically ignorant ranting comments by anti-polygamy folks. If only they realized that it did anything but cause others to respect their opinions.

  12. anon nurse,

    Really cute video. Me and my ex-wife used to live next door to a kid with a Boston Terrier named Oreo. He used to come visit us all them time. They’re great little dogs. Lots of personality. He’d play with our dog, but the cats were having none of it despite Oreo’s efforts.

  13. Tom Green,

    The nexus of Federal Court interest is in the nature of the claim itself, namely that criminalization of polygamy violates the the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. There may be other refinements once the complaint is posted, but as the case rests in Federal law, Federal Court is proper jurisdiction for that reason and for diversity.

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