ADF: U.S. Supreme Court should deny review of attempt to legalize polygamy
Polygamists hope to use Lawrence v. Texas decision to expand protections for "intimate relationships"
WASHINGTON — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Family Research Council, arguing that the court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas does not support a constitutional right to polygamous relationships.

"Marriage is a revered social institution that is regulated by the state for the public good. It is properly protected from the ill effects of polygamy," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Chris Stovall. "However, when the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy was constitutionally protected, it opened up a Pandora’s Box for other groups to hope that the ruling might be expanded to legalize other forms of relationships, including polygamy. Fortunately, courts have consistently limited the Lawrence decision to issues of criminal punishment for private, consensual sexual conduct between adults."

The state of Utah had prosecuted Rodney Holm for participating in so-called "religious marriages" in addition to his legal marriage. Since Holm and his "wives" did not seek legal recognition of these "religious marriages," he argued that, under the Lawrence decision, the state’s prosecution of him was an unconstitutional denial of his personal liberty. The Utah Supreme Court rejected his claim, and he has now petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review that decision. The brief filed by ADF requests that the court deny review and uphold the decision by the Utah Supreme Court.

A copy of the friend-of-the-court brief filed by ADF attorneys in Holm v. State of Utah can be read at

"The Utah Supreme Court wisely rejected this recipe for social disorder in its decision, and we hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will as well," said Stovall. "State polygamy bans are an important part of the legislative scheme governing and protecting marriage, and they clearly fall outside the scope of Lawrence."

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

Note: Facts in ADF news releases are verified prior to publication but may change over time. Members of the media are encouraged to contact ADF for the latest information on this matter.
Originally published Friday, January 12, 2007