Constitutional Law

Polygamist Family on 'Sister Wives' Plans Suit Challenging Utah Law


The polygamist family profiled on the Sister Wives reality TV show is planning to challenge Utah’s criminal ban on polygamy.

The suit will not demand a right to polygamous marriage, the New York Times reports. Rather, it will contend Utah’s criminal penalties for polygamous unions are unconstitutional under Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas law that barred sodomy.

The husband, Kody Brown, is formally married to just one wife. The other three women in his household are “spiritual wives,” National Public Radio reports.

The Utah law criminalizes bigamy and cohabitation, according to the Browns’ lawyer, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. He plans to file the suit on Wednesday in federal court in Salt Lake City, he writes on his website.

“There is no allegation of child abuse, no allegation of child brides, no allegations of so-called collateral crimes,” Turley told NPR. “But prosecutors have stated publicly that they believe the family is committing a felony every night on television.”

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