PLEDGE NOW
A Comeback For Polygamy In Utah?

Polygamy, sister wives, plural families get a boost from a court ruling in Utah. We’ll ask, “What Now?”

Members of the polygamous Brown family of Utah gather for a Christmas gift exchange. A lawsuit the family brought against a Utah statute banning polygamous-style co-habitation was successful in a court ruling in late December. (DCL / TLC)

Members of the polygamous Brown family of Utah gather for a Christmas gift exchange. A lawsuit the family brought against a Utah statute banning polygamous-style co-habitation was successful in a court ruling in late December. (DCL / TLC)

In 1890, the US Supreme Court called polygamy “abhorrent to the sentiments of the civilized world.” Mormon Utah was required to ban the practice – sister wives and all – before it was granted statehood.  Ten days ago, a federal judge in Utah – a George W. Bush appointee – said no to all that.  Polygamous husbands and wives can’t all legally marry one another, he said, but they have every right to cohabitate and live as polygamously as they like.  Critics say it’s proof we’re on a slippery slope after gay marriage.  Supporters say its freedom.  This hour On Point:  polygamy unbound, again, in Utah.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Howard Berkes, investigations correspondent for NPR, based in Salt Lake City.

Jonathan Turley, professor of law at The George Washington School of Law. He represented the polygamous Brown family  from the TLC reality series, “Sister Wives.” (@JonathanTurley)

Ken Klukowski, director of the Center For Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. Senior legal analyst at Brietbart News. (@kenklukowski)

Kristyn Decker, a former spouse in a polygamous family. Author of “Fifty Years In Polygamy: Big Secrets and Little White Lies.” (@KristynDecker)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: Polygamy supporters pleased that parts of Utah law are struck down — “Proponents say polygamist cohabitation among fundamentalist Mormons traditionally involves one marriage certificate; any additional wives represent religion-based relationships that are protected under the Constitution. They say the judge’s ruling has preserved laws against bigamy, which involves more than one marriage license. Waddoups ruled that while there was no ‘fundamental right’ to practice polygamy, the central issue was religious cohabitation, and that the language in the Utah law — ‘or cohabits with another person’ — should be struck.”

Salt Lake Tribune: The Utah polygamy ruling: Questions and answers — “In a nutshell, what did the judge say? He said the state could show no public interest in broad language that lumps cohabitation into the category of bigamy and the law was applied unevenly over the decades. Utah used it to prosecute people subscribing to early Mormon teachings and who were public about it rather than investigating anyone it suspected of breaking the statute. This, Waddoups said, amounted to violations of the First and 14th amendments.”

The Daily Beast: Was Rick Santorum Right About Polygamy After All? — “A decade ago, Rick Santorum said polygamy, among other things, would be allowed if bans on sodomy were struck down by the Supreme Court. ‘Sometimes I hate it when what I predict comes true,’ the once and likely future Republican presidential candidate tweeted Sunday after a federal judge decriminalized polygamy in Utah. Judge Clark Waddoups ruled late Friday that parts of the state’s law are unconstitutional, based on a Supreme Court ruling that legalized sodomy across the nation.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 11, 2016
In this Oct. 21, 2013, file photo, Vern Lund, president of Liberty Mine in central Mississippi near DeKalb, Miss., holds some of the lignite coal planned for use in the nearby Mississippi Power Co. carbon capture power plant. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

The Supreme Court hits the brakes on the heart of President Obama’s push to fight global warming. We’ll dig in.

Feb 11, 2016
A sampling of same of the great books author David Denby thinks could help encourage young readers to love books. (National Post)

David Denby on the 24 great books that can bring even today’s kids to reading. And maybe you, too.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 10, 2016
In this Feb. 1, 2016 photo, a technician from the British biotec company Oxitec, inspects the pupae of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Campinas, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Taking on the Zika virus, from tackling the disease itself, to killing the mosquitoes that carry it to the challenge of birth control.

 
Feb 10, 2016
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves to the crowd before speaking during a primary night watch party at Concord High School, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The winners and losers in New Hampshire, and the path ahead in the presidential primary race.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #9: Remedy Or Replica?
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

Jack Beatty offers one last note from New Hampshire, and looks beyond to the primary races yet to come in both parties.

More »
Comment
 
Tom Ashbrook’s Note From New Hampshire
Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016

Fresh off the New Hampshire Presidential Primary results, host Tom Ashbrook reflects on his trip to New Hampshire, and on what comes next in the race to the White House.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment