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Professor Turley Heads to Utah to Fight Anti-Polygamy Statute

BrownsTLC Jonathan Turley, the author of one of my favorite blogs and a professor at George Washington University, announced today that he is traveling to Utah to file a lawsuit challenging a state statute criminalizing bigamy and cohabitation. Turley is representing the Brown family, which is presently attracting a good bit of attention as the focal point of a television show about a polygamous family called Sister Wives.

In a statement about the imminent filing (Turley plans to file the complaint on Wednesday), Turley said that the case is about protecting citizens' "right to be left alone" and to live according to their own values. He said he views the case as:

the strongest factual and legal basis for a challenge to the criminalization of polygamy ever filed in the federal courts. We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs.

Like many of you, Kody Brown has a civil marriage with one wife. Perhaps unlike many of you, however, Brown also has three “sister wives” with whom he is not formally married, not to mention 16 children and stepchildren.

Professor Marci Hamilton told NPR that there have been more than 100 challenges to polygamy laws and all have failed. The Browns' lawsuit, however, will rely on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas. The New York Times reports that based on the Lawrence case, which held that state sodomy laws were unconstitutional intrusions on adults' "intimate conduct," Turley and the Browns will seek protection for the "intimate conduct" of polygamists. Turley says that “there are many religious practices in monogamous families that many believe as obnoxious and patriarchal. ... The criminal code is not a license for social engineering.”

Posted by Bruce Carton on July 12, 2011 at 04:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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