SALT LAKE CITY — Reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives said they are “disappointed” by incoming Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ announcement that he would appeal a federal judge’s ruling that essentially decriminalized polygamy.
On Thursday, Reyes gave an interview to FOX 13’s Ben Winslow where he said it was his intention to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups’ ruling striking down part of Utah’s bigamy law. The judge overturned the provision of the law that dealt with cohabitation, which was used to prosecute polygamists in the past.
“Our intention is to appeal,” Reyes said. “When I am sworn in that again is my intention, to defend the laws that have been passed by the state of Utah.”
The Brown family’s attorney, Jonathan Turley, issued a response on his blog, saying he was disappointed but willing to challenge the appeal in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
“Fighting to strip citizens of core rights of religious freedom and privacy is hardly a necessary or a redeeming act for any public official,” Turley wrote. “Nevertheless, these are not Utahan (sic) rights but American rights. It will be an honor to defend this decision, and the rights of the Brown family, in Denver.”
The Brown family issued a statement through Turley that reads:
“We are obviously disappointed by news that the incoming Attorney General has decided to appeal the decision to strike down the criminalization of polygamy. We left Utah after being subject to two years of investigation by prosecutors who called us felons because we chose to live as a plural family. We were told by our lead counsel, Professor Jonathan Turley, that we will now go to Colorado to defend this decision protecting our religious and privacy rights. While we regret the decision of the incoming Attorney General to try to strip our family of these rights, we look forward to arguing the case before the federal court of appeals and have absolute confidence in our cause and our counsel. Out of respect to the court, we intend to continue to limit our public discussion of this case. We want to let the legal process run its course and for the focus to be on the important legal issues of this case. Those issues go beyond our family and, with this appeal, will now hopefully benefit families beyond Utah.”
The clock for any appeals has been reset by Judge Waddoups. Court records indicate he vacated his final order because of a clerical error. Instead, he has scheduled a Jan. 14 hearing to address “unresolved issues.”
In the interview with FOX 13, Reyes also weighed in on last week’s ruling that overturned Amendment 3 — the voter-approved constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Reyes said he would continue to defend Amendment 3, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
“I think the voice of the people was clear. It’s my job not to speculate about political or social issues, but legal issues. My job and our job as a team will be to continue to defend, legally, the state laws,” Reyes said. “Beyond that, I think the citizens, regardless of the side of the issue you might fall on, deserve to have the process taken and have final word from the Supreme Court on this issue.”
The Utah Attorney General’s Office has said it will seek outside legal counsel as it prepares to appeal the Amendment 3 ruling. An application for a stay, halting same-sex marriages in Utah, could be filed with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as early as Monday.