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. kderosa,

    Why did I use the widely accepted definition instead of von Mises? Because von Mises, much like you, liked to make up his own words. Just because he wanted to make up his own definition, it doesn’t does not mean that he was using the words correctly. As to his “railing against statism”, well of course he was against the state. He didn’t want to be subject to their laws as long as he was involved in a profit seeking venture. Laissez-faire economics is inherently anti-state. As for his definition? “Von Mises is not arguing that capitalists be exempt from all rules and regulations, but that all people should be free from government planning which is a very different thing.” Actually, it isn’t and yes he is. If your plan involves endangering or abusing workers and/or consumers, your plan is illegal. That’s what regulations do; define illegal behavior and create a prohibition on said illegal behavior through the creation of either negative or positive duties. If there are no regulations, there are no rules to prevent and/or define illegal actions and their punishments. If people in business don’t want to plan based on avoiding breaking the law or would rather just break the law because it’s more profitable than compliance, too bad. Our Founding Fathers intended to create a country of laws, not men. The net result is the same no matter how he wants to dress it up and sell laissez-faire economics; which in his case was dressing it up in the language of individualism when laissez-faire economics has a lot less to do with individual rights than it does with individuals avoiding culpability for their actions; be those actions criminally actionable or a civic duty such as taxes. You point to a difference without distinction.

    The straw man is entirely yours. His name is von Mises. As a student of human nature and the law, he is clearly delusional if he thinks the sole purpose of regulation is to create an level playing field for competition. That’s incomplete data. The role of regulation is also to prevent people from harming other people even if that harm is done in the name of profits. Again, you want your cake (a level playing field) and to eat it too (avoid responsibilities created by regulation if it cuts into your profits).

    Your economist of choice rejected empirical evidence and as such his ideas are not based on reality, but rather his belief of what he thinks reality should be. That makes the Austrian School a belief system, not a rational proposition. That he like all other snake oil salesmen wanted to dress up his product to make it is attractive as possible is not surprising. That, however, does not change the fundamental nature of the snake oil. At best, von Mises was naive and lived in a fantasy land where there were no bad actors and at worst he was a closeted corporatist catering to the sociopathic and/or the otherwise amoral with a pseudo-science belief he gussied up to look like actual economics they could use to rationalize wanting to be exempt from the rule of law. He was in short the L. Ron Hubbard of economics.

    Why didn’t I use his definitions? Because they are double speak and lead to the same place as the standard definition. Why don’t I take his propositions seriously other than to treat them as semi-dangerous delusions? Because I don’t take non-empirical systems seriously. A system without reason and evidence is a belief system which in turn, as pete points out, makes it a religion. Just so, I don’t take his followers seriously either. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sit by and listen to his proselytisms and let them go unchallenged. You can shout “Xenu loves free markets!” all you want and that doesn’t change the fact that without proper regulation, free markets lead to the oligarchical tyranny of the wealthy and the corporate. Just like we see today where Wall Street criminals go unpunished for their roles in wrecking the economy and people’s lives for their profit motive as aided by deregulation. This country was founded upon a principle of avoiding tyranny no matter the source. As I said, you can’t be be for Jefferson and von Mises at the same time without be hypocritical.

    In summary, you have not presented a definition with distinction to prove I was incorrect in stating the nature of laissez-faire economics nor have you proved wrong the underlying logic of why it is detrimental to the rule of law, creates a polylogism by being classist and therefor encourages tyranny.

  2. No Elaine, I was not suggesting that. However there are a number of them that are…well shall we say initiatively challenged. 😉 did I just make up a new word?

  3. @Elaine, it is some of the alpha males that are the deadbeats. Some women are so attracted to the alpha traits, that they ignore the deadbeat traits. And, the violent traits. And that’s how we wind up with battered wives who refuse to leave their battering husbands. The beta males, most men, are merely the provider types that lack alpha traits.

    Do you know what evolution and natural selection actually are or do you invoke them merely as a talisman against creationism and the rubes who believe in religion?

  4. Scarecrow,

    You didn’t think my comment was sarcastic too?


    BTW, are you suggesting that all “beta males”–whatever they are–are deadbeats?

  5. @GeneH, Now was that so hard?

    I’m curious, GeneH, why you didn’t cite Von Mises’s own definition from Chapter XXVII of Human Action:

    Laissez faire means: Let the common man choose and act; do not force him to yield to a dictator

    And if you read the entire chapter it’s clear that Von Mises was railing aginats the statist forms of government that were popular during the time in which the state did the planning and business merely followed orders. That’s a far cry from unregulated laissez faire, somethingthat has never existed anywhere in modern history I don’t see anywhere that Von Mises wanted completely unregulated anything and that some minimal regulation might be needed to assure competition. Like I said, it’s a strawman.

    Von Mises is not arguing that capitalists be exempt from all rules and regulations, but that all people should be free from government planning which is a very different thing.

  6. 🙂 well the comment was meant to be a little sarcastic…single girls are not hard to find (the “all these guys will be left without a woman” argument is so absurd in the first place)…there are millions of single women with profiles posted on the Internet looking for someone – but not too many of them are interested in a deadbeat.

  7. @kderosa

    Polygamy will not cause a huge population of men without wives to form due solely to polygamy. If a man is unable to find a wife it is likely due to his inability to attract one. There are roughly 6 billion people on this planet, approximately 3 billion of them are women – we have the Internet now so you can track them down. There is a large population of unmarried women…single w/wo kids, divorced w/wo kids, widowed w/wo kids. Many of these women have not found a man that they WANT to marry. What polygamy does is give women more men to chose from. In the countries where polygamy is practiced openly 2 to 5 % of the men have more than one wife. If anything polygamy causes men to become better men in order to compete for the available women. So put down the beer and chips, turn off the TV, start good eating habits and work out 30 minutes (or more) a day…guess what…yup…you’re going to get some attention from the girls, maybe not the girls you want, but then if you’re desperate for a wife pick one that wants you.

  8. And by the way. if you’re regulating the market? Everyone gets regulated, including capitalists. So you point about “only capitalists”? Is still irrelevant.

  9. I’m making that up. Really. I actually got that definition in my college economics courses, but since you insist . . .

    “From 1970’s, however, the pendulum swung back to laissez-faire economics (renamed ‘market economy’ or ‘free enterprise’) and brought deregulation of business, and progressive removal of trade barriers, which is continuing.”

    “In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies.”

  10. Actually, you are making up that definition, which is why I’m asking for you to substantiate it. If you can’t do it, well then you can’t do it.

    As to your second point, is does matter if he only believes that capitalist should be unregulated and every one else should be regulated. That’s a fairness/equality issue that I’ve never heard anyone advocated. Except for Marxist/fascist and other totalitarian regimes which “exempt” their own party members from the rules they impose on the masses.

  11. kderosa,

    If you don’t like the basic definition of laissez-faire economics as promoting that transactions should be free from state intervention, including regulations, taxes and tariffs? I’m not going to make up a definition for you. That’s your tactic. If he’s for laissez-faire economics, he’s promoting that transactions should be free from state intervention, including regulations, taxes and tariffs. “[T]hat only capitalists should be unregulated and not subject to goverment authority” ? If he says other things shouldn’t be regulated and subject to government authority is irrelevant.

    Again, you haven’t rebutted or challenged any thing.

  12. Really? I’m misrepresenting his views? How would that be exactly?

    That he didn’t coin the term polylogism in his book “Human Action”, Chapter 3, Section 1?

    That he was a proponent of laissez-faire economics?

    You’re talking about the guy who said “What transformed the world of horse-drawn carriages, sailing ships, and windmills step by step into a world of airplanes and electronics was the laissez-faire principle.”

    Or that laissez-faire economics doesn’t promote that transactions should be free from state intervention, including regulations, taxes and tariffs?

    I suspect the truth of the matter is the underlying logic about the law of identity and what it says about laissez-faire economics, its necessary and subsequent creation of another form of classism and what that means to the rule of law is what’s bothering you.

    Just you saying “you’re misrepresenting” him without proof isn’t a rebuttal.

    You haven’t challenged any thing.

    If you can prove von Mises didn’t coin the term polylogism as a way to attack beliefs and theories he didn’t like, that he wasn’t a laissez-faire economist, that laissez-faire economics doesn’t result in classism, or that the law of identity is untrue, please feel free to attempt it.

  13. @GeneH, I’m not confused, I know you are misrepresenting Von Mises views.

    You made an assertion. I challenged you. And, you failed to substantiate.

  14. Whatever confuses you, please feel free to do your own research. There’s this terrific web service called “Google”. I suggest you look into it.

  15. kderosa,

    My argument stands just fine, your opine to the contrary absent proof notwithstanding. That von Mises was against government regulation is evidenced by his and the Austrian School’s laissez-faire approach to the economy. Do you know what laissez-faire economics is? Laissez-faire economics is the proposition that transactions are are be free from state intervention, including regulations, taxes and tariffs. If one in business is exempt from regulation, taxation and tariffs, one in business is free from the rule of law. This is especially true given that taxation and the regulation of commerce are powers specifically reserved to the Federal government under the Constitution. Our very founding document allows for both taxation and regulation of business. That you reject this simple legal fact based on your ideology and cannot follow the rest of the logic is your problem.

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