PHOENIX — A federal judge has issued a ruling that allows the U.S. Justice Department to go to trial over whether the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., discriminate against anyone who is not a member of a polygamous church.
In the ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland denied a request by the Justice Department for summary judgment. However, the judge also denied requests by Hildale and Colorado City to dismiss the case.
“In sum, plaintiff may attempt to prove its … claim by establishing that defendants violated the First, Fourth, or Fourteenth Amendments, and there are material questions of fact as to whether there have been any constitutional violations on the part of defendants,” the judge wrote.
The judge did side with the towns on damages on behalf of residents who claim they have been discriminated against and dropped some entities from the lawsuit.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Hildale and Colorado City, accusing the town governments of acting on behalf of the wishes of leaders of the Fundamentalist LDS Church and its leader, Warren Jeffs, and denying services to people who have either left the Utah-based polygamous church or were cast out.
The towns have repeatedly denied the claims. Now, they plan to go to trial.
“It was good that we narrowed some of the issues,” Blake Hamilton, an attorney for Hildale, told FOX 13.
Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.”
Read the judge’s ruling here: