The Mormon ‘Sister Wives’ family begs the Supreme Court to legalize polygamy
If, for whatever reason, you’re a fan of the TLC series Sister Wives, here’s some big news: the Brown family, aka the polygamous Mormon family including Kody Brown, his four “wives” Meri, Christine, Janelle, and Robyn, and their 18 children, featured in Sister Wives is asking SCOTUS to legalize polygamy and filed for a hearing Monday. I mean, we’re not here to judge, except, yeah actually, we kind of are.
The Browns are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a Utah appeal court’s ruling forbidding cohabitation with more than one partner, but Utah notes that without the ban, it’s significantly more difficult to charge people with crimes like underage marriage and sexual assault. Really, the purpose of the ban is to protect young people from sexual abuse and exploitation, and trying to get rid of it to justify your lifestyle is more than a little selfish. At any rate, Jezebel notes that Utah generally doesn’t arrest polygamous citizens any way.
Still, Attorney Jonathan Turley, who represents the family, argues that the Browns’ religious freedom is at stake. In a statement to Yahoo News, Turley went so far as to claim the state of Utah was founded on families’ right to do as they please, whether that means living with four wives or one: “Utah is a state that was founded by courageous citizens seeking these very protections from government abuse and religious inequality. This lawsuit is true to the original dream of those seeking freedom in Utah.” Religious freedom is, obviously, far more important than young women’s safety.
After the family moved from Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada and local authorities began an investigation into their family situation, they began to fear charges would be levied against them, but filing for a hearing by the Supreme Court probably isn’t the best way to defend their way of life, considering the Court hears less than 1 percent of all cases brought to it.
It’s worth noting that Kody Brown is legally only married to one of his four “wives,” but says he’s “spiritually” married to the other three.
Today, roughly 38,000 Mormons are involved in polygamous marriages in America (which, fyi, is starkly different from polyamory, which refers to more egalitarian, mutually open relationships), but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strictly prohibits polygamy and struck it from its doctrine more than a century ago in 1890.
Feel free to peruse the Brown family’s compelling petition in its entirety here.