U.S. Supreme Court denies review of attempt to legalize polygamy
Polygamists hoped to use Lawrence v. Texas decision to expand protections for "intimate relationships"; ADF attorneys filed friend-of-the-court brief

WASHINGTON ó The U.S. Supreme Court Monday turned away an appeal that argued for the legalization of polygamous relationships. ADF attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Family Research Council on Jan. 12 that encouraged the court to deny review of the case.

"Polygamy is no mere social taboo. It is destructive on multiple levels, and the court was right to turn down review of this attempt to attack appropriate protections of marriage," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Chris Stovall. "The courts have consistently ruled that the Supreme Courtís 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas is limited to issues of criminal punishment for private, consensual sexual conduct between adults. It does not legitimize polygamy, which involves living openly and publicly in multiple simultaneous relationships and households which are held out as marriages."

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 stateís prosecution of him was an unconstitutional denial of his personal liberty. The Utah Supreme Court rejected his claim, and he appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The friend-of-the-court brief filed by ADF attorneys in Holm v. State of Utah argued that the nationís high court need not hear the case (www.telladf.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3979).

"The Utah Supreme Court wisely rejected this recipe for social disorder in its decision, and we applaud the U.S. Supreme Courtís decision to let Utahís decision stand," 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.

Originally published February 27, 2007