Polyamist appeals conviction to top U.S. court
An ex-Hildale police officer convicted of bigamy is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his conviction.

Rodney Holm claims his conviction violates his constitutional rights to freedom of religion and due process. His petition also questions whether a state can treat private polygamous relationships as criminal marriages.

"Widespread popular departure from traditional marriage practices has made the anti-polygamy laws, like laws against cohabitation, adultery, and fornication, anachronistic," Holm's lawyer Rod Parker wrote in the petition. "These laws are not enforced against those practicing contemporary lifestyles, but are asserted as weapons, as in this case, against those living a traditional, family-grounded, religious-based life."

Parker asks the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its controversial decision in Reynolds v. United States. The 1879 decision banned polygamy in America, although there are an estimated 37,000 people living in plural marriage in Utah and surrounding states.

In his petition, Holm's lawyers claim Utah's interpretation of its own bigamy statute discriminates against a religious minority and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

"The Utah court's criminalization of polygamous relationships that do not seek recognition as legal marriages violates the Equal Protection Clause because it discriminates on the basis of religious affiliation," Parker wrote.

Holm was convicted of bigamy and unlawful sex with a minor in St. George's 5th District Court, stemming from his marriage to 16-year- old Ruth Stubbs. She became his third wife in a "spiritual" ceremony.

Holm is a member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church based in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs is currently facing criminal charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. He is accused of forcing a teenage girl into a polygamous marriage with an older man.

Jeffs, who was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list until his capture earlier this year, is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 21.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com
Originally published October 17, 2006