Polygamy Still Illegal in Utah

US Supreme Court declines to hear arguments from 'Sister Wives' family
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2017 5:13 PM CST
Polygamy Still Illegal in Utah
In this July 10, 2013, file photo, Kody Brown poses with his wives at one of their homes in Las Vegas.   (Jerry Henkel/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via AP, File)

Polygamy is still illegal in Utah, as the US Supreme Court has declined to hear arguments against the lower court ruling that kept it so. Kody Brown and his four wives—the stars of TLC's Sister Wives—have for years been seeking to remove the penalties for polygamy in Utah, and in December 2013, a federal judge ruled in their favor and effectively decriminalized polygamy in the state. But in April of last year, an appeals court overturned that decision, reinstating the polygamy ban. On Monday, the Supreme Court let that appeals court ruling stand, the AP reports.

The problem for the Browns is that they've never actually been prosecuted for polygamy. They argued that Utah's law in and of itself, along with a 2010 police investigation of their family, constituted discrimination against their family; the appeals court disagreed. One expert explains to the Salt Lake Tribune that a prosecutor would likely have to actually charge consenting adult polygamists with a crime, and for those consenting adults to show that prosecution had harmed them, in order for the Supreme Court to address the issue—but, he says, it's unlikely any prosecutor will ever do so, instead focusing any charges on polygamy cases that involve alleged sexual abuse, fraud, or underage marriage. (Read more polygamy stories.)

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