NCSF on Twitter   Subscribe to the NCSF RSS Feed   NCSF Blog

"'Sister Wives' Lawsuit: Federal Judge Rules TV Family Can Question Bigamy Statute"

on Sunday, 05 February 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

A federal judge has ruled there's sufficient evidence to allow a polygamous family made famous by a reality TV show to pursue a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Utah's bigamy law.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups on Friday dismissed Utah's governor and attorney general from the case, but allowed the suit to proceed against Utah County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune report.

Buhman threatened to prosecute Kody Brown and his four wives – Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn – after the TLC show "Sister Wives" debuted in September 2010, but his office has not filed charges.

The family sued Buhman, Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in July 2011, claiming Utah's bigamy statute violates its constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, free speech and freedom of association.

Waddoups, in his 21-page ruling, wrote that he dismissed Herbert and Shurtleff from the case because Shurtleff assured the Browns that they wouldn't be prosecuted. Shurtleff has a policy of not prosecuting consenting adult polygamists as long as they're not committing other crimes.

But the judge wrote that Buhman conducted interviews with the news media that made it clear he intended to investigate and prosecute the Browns. The fact that no charges have been filed does not matter, he added.

"The entirety of actions by the Utah County prosecutors tend to show either an ill-conceived public-relations campaign to showboat their own authority and/or harass the Browns and the polygamist community at large, or to assure the public that they intended to carry out their public obligations and prosecute violations of the law," Waddoups wrote.

There's reason for the Browns to believe they could face prosecution in Utah County, the judge continued, and that could have a "chilling effect" on their ability to practice their First Amendment rights in the state.

But the Browns must show that there's a real and viable threat to their constitutional rights for the lawsuit to hold up in court, Waddoups wrote.

Brown moved his wives and 16 children from Lehi to the Las Vegas area in January 2001.

Buhman said he had not yet reviewed the ruling and was not prepared to comment.

Social Bookmarks

Comments (0)

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest. Optional login below.

Cancel Submitting comment...

Latest Reader Comments

  • NCSF Blog has a huge amount of helpful information. Thanks


    27. November, 2015 |

  • Whichever vacuum you decide on, one important factor to take into consideration is filters.
    To apply it make sure how the crevice tool...
  • Just go back from Dean’s side (how you came in),
    and also you can walk right inside the stairs on the
    left to succeed in the...

    uv keyboard

    20. November, 2015 |

  • Children belong with their parents! Love has no boundaries and is to precious to be limited by "societal norms". My heart goes out to...


    02. November, 2015 |

  • A guilty verdict is suffice. There seems to me to be little to no excuse for this sort of thing to go on as there is more than enough...


    28. October, 2015 |

  • The human condition never fails to amaze and astound, and this woman fits that description. What a celebration of life this is.......30


    15. October, 2015 |