'Sister Wives' Family Moving Forward with Lawsuit Challenging Bigamy Law
A federal judge ruled the family's First Amendment rights may have been violated.
The polygamous family featured on the reality series Sister Wives is being allowed to move forward with a lawsuit challenging Utah's anti-bigamy law, a federal judge ruled Friday.
In a lawsuit brought against high-ranking Utah officials and area media, Kody Brown and wives Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn assert the law infringes upon their constitutional rights. Those rights include free speech, due process, freedom of religion, equal protection, and freedom of association, the AP reported.
The family rose to national prominence after the launch of their TLC television show in September 2010. Utah Attorney General Jeffrey Buhman then gave interviews in which he suggested the family would be prosecuted under Utah's anti-bigamy law.
In a 21-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said the suggestion of prosecution potentially had a "chilling effect" on the family's First Amendment rights. But it would now be up to the Browns to prove a there was a real threat to their constitutional rights.
Waddoups allowed the case to continue against Utah County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman, the Desert News and Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah's governor and attorney general had also been named in the suit, but the judge dismissed them, noting the attorney general had a policy of not prosecuting consenting adult polygamists for their marriages.
The Brown family has 17 children and are members of the Apostolic United Brethren Church. They said they launched their TV show in hopes of educating people on plural marriages.