Professor Turley and GW Law Team Successful in Federal Court

On Friday, December 13, a U.S. District Court ruled that part of an anti-polygamy law in Utah violates the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion, as well as constitutional due process. Specifically, Judge Clark Waddoups' 91-page decision strikes down language prohibiting cohabitation as unconstitutional, while leaving intact the ability of the state to prohibit having more than one valid marriage license.

The case was brought against Utah by Kody Brown of TLC’s reality-TV show Sister Wives more than two years ago. Jonathan Turley, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law, was the lead counsel for the Brown family throughout the multi-year court battle with help from several GW Law students. Professor Turley says that the case is about "privacy rather than polygamy," and has previously written that plural families present the same privacy and due process concerns faced by the gay and lesbian community.

Professor Turley discusses his full thoughts about Brown v. Buhman on his blog, and his comments have appeared in various media outlets, shared below.


In the Media

Judge Rules for 'Sister Wives' [Video]
CNN | December 16, 2013

'To Put It Simply, Polygamy Is Now Lawful in Utah' 
The National Law Journal | December 16, 2013

Polygamist Ruling Examined [Video]
ABC 4 | December 16, 2013

'Sister Wives' Defeat Polygamy Law in Federal Court
U.S. News & World Report | December 16, 2013

Judge Strikes Down Part of Utah Polygamy Ban 
TIME | December 14, 2013

A Utah Law Prohibiting Polygamy Is Weakened 
The New York Times | December 14, 2013

Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Religious Cohabitation in Polygamy Law
BuzzFeed | December 14, 2013


From the Brown Family

"The entire Brown family is humbled and grateful for this historical ruling from the court today. Like thousands of other plural families, we have waited many years for this day. While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our beliefs. Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs. There are so many families who have waited for so long for this ruling and, on their behalf, we can only say: thank you, Judge Waddoups, for your courageous decision.

We want to particularly thank our lead counsel Professor Jonathan Turley who represented us through the criminal investigation and then led the fight against this law. We also want to thank the team of lawyers and students from George Washington, including our local counsel Adam Alba. We are so honored and blessed to have been able to serve as the vehicle for this milestone ruling. Professor Turley has pledged to defend this decision on appeal and we are equally committed to fight to preserve this great victory."