Utah appeals polygamy ruling

Posted at 10:20 AM, Oct 09, 2014
and last updated 2020-02-11 12:29:51-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office will proceed with an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling striking down part of the state’s polygamy ban.

FOX 13 first reported Thursday morning that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes had planned to pursue the appeal with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A notice of appeal had already been filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

Read the appeal here:

Last year, a federal judge struck down the cohabitation prong of Utah’s anti-polygamy law — essentially decriminalizing the practice. In an order clarifying his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups preserved a portion of the statute that makes it illegal to seek multiple marriage licenses.

Judge Waddoups’ decision on polygamy came a week before an historic decision striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby. Earlier this week, Utah abandoned its fight against same-sex marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear its appeal.

Questions had been raised about whether Utah would pursue the appeal in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the Amendment 3 case. At the time, the attorney general’s office would only say it was analyzing the impact of the high court’s decision.

The “Sister Wives” case was brought by reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his four wives, who sued the state after they were put under investigation by Lehi police. The family argued that Utah’s ban on polygamy violated their First Amendment right to freely practice their religion.

In a statement to FOX 13, Reyes’ Democratic challenger, Charles Stormont, criticized the appeal.

“Taxpayers should ask why Sean Reyes is appealing a case against a reality TV star when he was never brought a bigamy charge,” Stormont wrote. “We need to stop money chasing headlines. Instead, we should focus on protecting victims of child abuse and domestic violence and prosecuting tax and welfare fraud.”