Supreme Court Refuses To Hear TLC’s “Sister Wives” Polygamy Case

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear TLC's "Sister Wives" Polygamy Case


The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear arguments from the husband and four wives who star in the television show “Sister Wives,” essentially affirming that polygamy remains a crime in Utah. The appeal by Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn Brown sought remove the penalties for a practice that has caused consternation in Utah since the first Mormon settlers arrived. But their case had been hampered by one problem — the Browns have never been prosecuted for bigamy.

They contended the law on the books and a 2010 investigation by Lehi police was enough to constitute discrimination. The bigamy statute, when read broadly, could be used to prosecute unmarried couples who live together. Yet the statute, which makes polygamy a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, has only ever been used to prosecute polygamists.

In December 2013, federal Judge Clark Waddoups sided with the Browns and struck down the portion of Utah’s bigamy statute focused on polygamy. (A portion dealing with having, active multiple marriage licenses remains.) In April 2015, the appeals court in Denver overturned that ruling. In finding the Browns lacked standing to file a legal challenge, a three-judge panel considered a policy by the Utah County Attorney’s Office limiting polygamy prosecutions to cases which also include offenses like sexual abuse, fraud or underage marriage. Other county prosecutors and the Utah Attorney General’s Office have similar policies.

The Brown’s argued that they believe the law unfairly targets them because of their religious views, which allows Kody to be “married” to all four women.

In their legal brief the Browns go as far as citing Obergefell v. Hodges, where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rights of same-sex couples to marry, the documents state, “From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to coerce or punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions. This case is about criminalization of consensual relations and there are 21st century cases rather than 19th century cases that control Homosexuality was a crime for centuries in this and other countries. Adultery and fornication were long considered crimes.”

Does anyone else remember when TLC was The Learning Channel and you actually learned things?  

Ahhhh. Those were the good days…..

About Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact:

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