On Thursday, the federal court in Salt Lake City is set to hear final arguments in the Sister Wives case. The hearing on the motions for summary judgment will be heard on Thursday, January 17th at the federal courthouse in Room 102 before Judge Clark Waddoups. 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