One month ago, United States District Court Judge Clarke Waddoups handed down his final ruling in favor of my clients in the Sister Wives case. Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes has now filed his notice of appeal in the case — a move that will take this historic case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver and potentially to the Supreme Court.

Previously, Judge Waddoups handed down an historic ruling striking down key portions of the Utah polygamy law as unconstitutional. Only one count remained: the Section 1983 claim that state officials (notably prosecutor Jeffrey R. Buhman) violated the constitutional rights of the Brown family in years of criminal investigation and public accusations. A month ago, he ruled in favor of the Brown family on that last count as well.

We are prepared to defend this and the prior ruling in Denver and I will be joined by our local counsel, Adam Alba (a former GW student) as well as our team of GW law students.

It is a rather curious position for the state of Utah in seeking to reverse one of the strongest defenses of religious liberty handed down in decades. This is a discretionary appeal and nothing compelled the state or Mr. Reyes to try to reverse the District Court of Utah. Mr. Reyes takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. The final judgment did precisely that.

After that decision, abuse of spouses and children will continue to be prosecuted regardless of whether they occur in monogamous or polygamous families. These protective services will only be strengthened now that many families can openly integrate into society and not fear prosecution merely because of their family structure. What remains of the statute was narrowly construed by the Court to limit future prosecutions to traditional bigamy, i.e. individuals with multiple marriage licenses. Neither the Attorney General nor the state of Utah should fight a ruling that reaffirmed freedom of religion and equal protection. Utah is a state that was founded by citizens seeking those very rights against government abuse. Utah is better place because of the courageous decision of Judge Waddoups and the commitment of the Brown family in defense of our Constitution. Now the state will seek to reverse that outcome and walk back to the long-troubled history surrounding this law.

The Browns remain entirely committed to fighting to preserve the protections of religion, speech, and privacy established in this case for their family as well as other citizens. As lead counsel, it will be a distinct honor to defend not just the Brown family but this historic decision by Judge Waddoups.

Jonathan Turley
Lead Counsel for the Brown Family


  1. Pingback: The Other Sister
  2. Abraham had more than one wife. There was jealousy among the women and one was forced to leave.
    I take the conservative view that marriage is between one man and one woman. However, if this fellow wants to have more than one wife, its his choice and his pocketbook. However, don’t come asking the tax payer for handouts. There are males who sleep around, have as many as 12 or more children by different women and expect society to provide for the women and children.

    footnote: I’m disappointed Professor that you took this immoral case.

    1. Gigi – I had a student who had children by 5 different men and was on welfare. They should all be over 18 now so I suppose she will actually have to get a job.

  3. What goes on between others should not be of our concern. As stated here there are men who have many children with many women and don’t support them but we do. The Cody Brown has 1 legal wife and 4 mistress.If they want to say they are his wife so be it. It is not harming anyone. We don’t go around having the government go after men’s mistresses so why them??? As for what it shows the children. There are a cpl of them they say the don’t want to live a pleural lifestyle. So there for they are not being brain wash to. If he can support his family and he was long before the show so be it. Why is anyone complaining. Let them be. Just because they are open about their life and life style we should crucify them? NO. DON’T WATCH THE SHOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW.. This is just my opinion and we ate each in title to ours. I don’t give a damn how many so called wives he or anyone else out there has. NOT OUR BUSINESS….

  4. Although plural marriage isn’t for me. I wouldn’t want anyone to dictate who I marry or who can define what marriage is for me.live and let live!!

  5. No government has proper jurisdiction over any form of marriage. Marriage is an individual relationship between consenting adults. It is not an institution where government need interfere.

    Government at all levels, federal, state, county and city, should simply remove their concerns and involvement regarding whether any two or more consenting adults are married or consider themselves married.

    It’s none of any government’s business whether people are married.

  6. Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes has now filed his notice of appeal in the case — a move that will take this historic case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver and potentially to the Supreme Court.

    Yes Justice Kennedy, which of the children being raised by Bob, Sally and Sue is it that you shall say is Whole Milk, which is Skim Milk

    Of Bob and Sally or
    Of Bob and Sue or
    Of Sally and Sue ?

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