Monday, September 12, 2016

Polygamy? Well, Sort of.

The diversity in this country is unreal. This is what frightens many conservatives. This is what frightens Trump supporters. It's not the only reason Trumpettes support the Drumpf but it's one of them.

There is a court case brought by the family in the TV show "Sister Wives" that would undo a special provision of the Utah law against polygamy. Kody Brown has one legal wife but three additional "wives" which live with the couple without legal marriage status.

I'm going to skip over the irony of the law being a Utah law as well as the question of why anyone in his right mind would want four wives and get right to my understanding of the issue.

The special provision apparently prohibits co-habitation with other partners even if there is a legal marriage with just one partner. Clearly marriage to two or more partners would be bigamy which is illegal and that's not what the Browns are challenging. They're challenging the provision which prohibits additional co-habitation. Brown claims to be legally married to only one wife but "spiritually married" to the other three.

They originally won in a lower court which ruled the law violated both the right to privacy and religious freedom. An appeal court ruled that the Browns couldn't bring suit because they hadn't actually been charged with violating the law. It never ruled on the Constitutional questions.

The Utah prosecutors say they usually leave polygamists like the Browns alone but need the law in order to pursue other polygamists that engage in underage "spiritual marriage" or sexual assault.

Exactly why the laws associated with statutory rape and sexual assault aren't adequate for this purpose eludes me but I suppose proving co-habitation is easier especially if the "wives" don't want to cooperate.

The 10th Circuit refused to hear the case so the Browns are appealing it to the Supreme Court.

I suspect their chances are between slim and none given that, as the appeal court ruled, they appear to lack standing. You would need a family actually charged under the law and, given the way prosecutors claim to apply it, that might be hard to find.

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