Judge won’t reconsider FLDS ‘Hobby Lobby’ ruling

Posted at 10:38 AM, Nov 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-24 12:38:40-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge is refusing to reconsider a decision to allow a member of Warren Jeffs’ polygamous church to refuse to answer questions, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in the “Hobby Lobby” case.

In a ruling handed down last week and obtained by FOX 13, U.S. District Court Judge David Sam rejected the U.S. Department of Labor’s request to reconsider his decision.

Read the ruling here:

Fundamentalist LDS Church member Vergel Steed refused to answer questions about alleged child labor law violations in a deposition, citing his rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. U.S. District Court Judge David Sam ruled that Steed did not have to answer, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

Steed was being questioned about hundreds of FLDS children being used to pick pecans at a Hurricane farm in 2012.

“As a point of clarification, the Court’s prior decision regarding Mr. Steed’s First
Amendment protection does not prohibit appropriate inquiries into commercial activities of the FLDS Church involving child labor,” Sam wrote in last week’s order. “As Petitioner correctly notes, Mr. Steed has acknowledged that those activities are not sacred to him.”

The federal government has the option of appealing Judge Sam’s decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.