Sisters Wives Case Goes To The Tenth Circuit [Updated]

240px-sister_wives_tv_series_logo300px-US-CourtOfAppeals-10thCircuit-Seal1I am in Denver this morning about to argue the Sister Wives case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. There will be a delay in posting today as a result.

Last year, 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 filed his notice of appeal in the case — a move that now takes 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.

The argument this morning will occur at 8:30 am in Courtroom III.

Updated: the argument today was vigorous and all of the judges asked highly probative questions to both sides. The government has conceded that it has waived any defense to “hybrid” constitutional claims on appeal. The panel pressed both parties on mootness and standing issues. One surprise was that the government announced that the legislature is now considering a change to the statutory language of the cohabitation provision. Whether this would change the case or even moot the appeal is still unclear since we have not seen the language.

I ran from the courthouse to switch flights to a departure today due to the winter storm. I just arrived at the Denver airport so I will not be able to post anything additional for a while. This flight appears my one hope of making it back before the storm hits.

25 thoughts on “Sisters Wives Case Goes To The Tenth Circuit [Updated]

  1. The New Testament and Polygamy

    A legal doctrine exists, used to interpret statutes, and is often expressed in Greek as expressio unius est exclusio alterius. It means the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another. As an example, if a statute states that all American men between the ages of 18 and 45 must register for the draft, you could reasonably interpret that statute to mean if you were under 18 years of age or over age 45, you do not have to register.

    Now consider this phrase, found in the Bible at 1 Timothy 3:12, from the King James Version:

    “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”

    Applying the Expressio Unis doctrine, if you are not a deacon of a church, you can have more than one wife.

    While you ponder this concept, don’t be tempted to think that other Biblical translations will be more inline with your belief system that the Bible is inherently monogamous. Go to and you will find dozens of translations saying essential the same thing, many in fact are identical to the King James version.


  2. @Killing with Drones

    In fact, if you check the text in Greek, what does it say in regards to one? Mia.

    Check here: <– Mia means one or first, of one or a, other.

    For the actual word meaning literally just one, it should have been this word: <— heis, meaning the primary number of one.

    Why did Paul not use heis? Of course, he used mia because there were people who practiced polygamy at the time. Also, even though Paul did suggest that the deacons be husbands of one wife, read the first verse:

    "This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." – KJV 1 Tim 3:1

    Paul never said, "I command thee, by the grace of God, that if thou seek the office of the Bishop, thou shalt do the following." Read Paul's language again. He was suggesting what would be found in a man when he seeks the office. Of course, many men would fail some or most of the desirable traits found in a bishop or a deacon but he expounded that the qualifications of a bishop or deacon must be exemplified through those traits, not necessarily compulsory.

    So, a deacon can have more than one wife in theory. Here's one obvious problem. If the deacon grows his family by more than just one wife, and loses focus or attention on the ministry, he would fail at his job. The Bible requires that a man, who serves God, needs to focus on God. In order to do that, his attention cannot be so divided among so many wives. It is acceptable then that bishops or deacons be given a limit to how many they can have, i.e. the limit on kings to multiply by wives, multiply gold, etc.

    Other than that, laymen can marry more than one wife which does not produce sin.

  3. I had a good working and friendship relationship with a terrific RC priest as I had an Episcopal parish across the street and we did a number of celebration s together.

    When our copier failed he gave us access to theirs.

    I came to understand why RC priests are kept unmarried. No wife would put up with the working hours. (Leave the crude remarks alone folks.)

    Just an observation from a retired clergy (one 40+yr marriage and one adult child.)

  4. @Renegade

    I still fail to see how the RCC would actually allow priests to remain unmarried. Celibacy isn’t a virtue that most people actually pursue for the rest of their lives. Few, if any, would pursue it to its end and succeed in not having physical contact with people they met.

    There’s a reason why the pedophile scandals were rocking the RCC here in America, Ireland, and other places. Those priests weren’t celibate. They were using religious authority to have access to children. If piety is a virtue strongly advocated by the RCC, sweeping the abuses under the rug won’t do well.

    I can understand that there are RCC priests who can stay celibate, remain above reproach when regarding children and other people; but as time goes on, we don’t know the exact numbers of people who are willing to seek out such vices.

    Simply apologizing will not help the RCC. Actively removing and defrocking, shaming those priests might work but won’t fully end those problems in third world nations.

    By the way, I used to be Episcoplian until I moved to becoming a Baptist. I have seen priests there who have had strong patience but others who did not. A certain Ned Bowersex was certainly vexed with my sister when she was at least 10 or 11. She questioned the Bible, asked many questions. There were questions that Mr. Bowersex could not answer. In doing so, he had to remove my sister and me, my brother outside of the Episcopal school. We were no longer allowed there.

    No hard feelings against Mr. Bowersex but I have to admit, if Christianity is about saving souls, why turn away or abuse those who may need it?

    • Texan P

      Appreciate the note.. Please do note that my anecdotal reminiscing re. Fr. O’s hard work and long hours was in humor in re. my experience of being married and trying to “do the job.”

      BTW my being married had nothing to do with whether or not I could be drawn to pederasty. That’s almost like saying long tours at sea leads to sailors being adverse to bending over to p/u the soap dropped in the shower. One, after a week at sea there isn’t much of a drive except to eat, sleep and not sleep on watch. Two, when the boat is called away in a liberty port call, there is a resurrection of Biblical proportions (Tongue-in-cheek pun?) and a financial redistribution that would make progressives beam.

      Interestingly my wife almost got me over to the Baptists shortly after we were married by a Methodist minister in a Navy Chapel on North Isl. NAS while we were both “non-aviation” types. (Seminary was much later)

      Have to say that the climate in TEC is so different now that any interpretation is welcomed except the idea of “saving souls.” An example is the prospectus for the next bishop for Spokane (Eastern Washignton). Not one mention about centrality of Scripture or salvation through Christ.

      Now many on this thread may try to shred my concern. But when one takes an oath such as the one made at a bishop installation, it is clear. One should not assume wearing the collar answers the concern. Not sure what the difference is between a lot of mainline churches and the Rotary and other service organizations, except that Rotary folks clearly know their differentiating mission statement. Ask any Episcopalian what are their tradition’s four central precepts. I’ll be very surprised if they can articulate the first one…has to do with salvation. Hmmmm. I have a hard time finding fellow clergy knowing the 4. Much less the detail of the church’s emblem.

      Ok I’m done. Time to find my sherry, pipe, slippers, book and favorite chair by the fireplace….NOT.

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