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"'Sister Wives' polygamous family turned away at Supreme Court"

on Saturday, 25 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

USA Today

WASHINGTON  — The Supreme Court said Monday it won't hear an appeal from the family on TV's Sister Wives challenging Utah's law banning polygamy.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling that said Kody Brown and his four wives can't sue over the law because they weren't charged under it.

A federal judge sided with the Browns and overturned key parts of Utah's bigamy law in 2013, but an appeals court overturned that decision last year.

The Browns sought to argue before the high court that the law infringes on their right to freedom of speech and religion. The family said they should be able to challenge the law because the threat of prosecution forced them to flee to Nevada and still looms over them when they return to Utah.

Utah's law forbids married people from living with a second purported "spouse," making it stricter than anti-bigamy laws in other states and creating a threat of arrest for plural families. But state officials have followed a long tradition of not prosecuting polygamists unless they commit some other crime, such as child or spousal abuse, domestic violence or fraud.

Police investigated the family after their show premiered in 2010, but closed the case without filing any charges. The family argued in legal briefs that the state should not be able to thwart a constitutional challenge to the law "by changing its enforcement policy during the pendency of litigation."

The state says only 10 people were charged with violating the law between 2001 and 2011. Utah officials argue that the ban is important to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse.

Kody Brown is legally married to Meri Brown, but says he is "spiritually married" to three other women. They live together in a plural relationship, with a combined 18 children, and belong to a religious group that believes in polygamy as a core religious practice.

The Browns became one of America's most famous polygamous families through their reality TV series on cable network TLC, which attempts to show how a plural family navigates life in a society that shuns their lifestyle. ...

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