December 12th, 2015 by Mark Henkel

In the Fall of 2010, TLC began airing “Sister Wives,” the first-ever polygamy-friendly reality-TV show. The focus of the series was upon Mormon polygamist Kody Brown, his three wives, and all of their children. By the end of the first season, a fourth wife (with three children of her own) was joining the family too. This family had no connection to crimes, underage marriage, or the FLDS. Indeed, the Browns are a committed family, of whom all 5 of the parents married as un-coerced consenting adults.

Soon after the TV series first began, an ominously terrifying “investigation” was announced by the Utah State authorities as a result of the family being publicly “out” as polygamists on television. For their safety, the Brown family quickly moved from Utah to the State of Nevada. Renowned Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who had been publicly repeating my known arguments for years (even repeating my pro-polygamy media arguments since 2004) filed a lawsuit for the Brown Family in the Summer of 2011.

In December 2013, the first six of seven counts in the Brown v. Buhman case were decided in the U.S. Federal District Court in Utah. On that Friday the 13th, Judge Clark Waddoups

However, de jure polygamy (having more than one legal marriage license) remained illegal.

Eight months later, on August 27, 2014, Judge Waddoups handed down a Memorandum Decision to the Brown v. Buhman case, deciding the seventh and final count. The U.S. Federal District Court awarded damages to the Brown family for Utah violating their rights.

Subsequently, Utah appealed that decision at the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, outrageously claiming that Warren Jeffs is supposedly “why” polygamy should remain illegal.

Such an assertion is beyond outrageous because the nationwide movement of UCAP (unrelated consenting adult polygamy) has vehemently declared how Warren Jeffs was Always Opposed by National Polygamy Movement and that his FLDS was Always Opposed by National Polygamy Movement.

Indeed, about 5 years ago, I presented a speech before a non-polygamous audience about this very matter, titled,
We Always Opposed All Criminals.

The video of that speech is embedded here below.

Moreover, as the national voice for UCAP polygamy rights the last 20+ years, I have repeatedly presented numerous sound-bites that instantly refute and discredit any such irrational attempt to connect UCAP to that criminal (or any such criminals). Here are two quick examples:

“Criminalizing all unrelated consenting adult polygamists (UCAPs) because of Warren Jeffs

  • is like criminalizing all teachers because of May Kay Letourneau, and
  • it’s like criminalizing all football players/coaches because of Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky.”

Nevertheless, this past week, on Friday, December 11, 2015, directing the Appellant (Buhman) and the Appellees (Brown family), the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered both sides in this polygamy case appeal to file briefs to answer the following two questions:

  1. Whether Appellees had standing and their claims against Appellant Buhman were ripe at the time of the complaint; and
  2. If so, whether the prosecutorial policy announced in Appellant Buhman’s May 22, 2012 declaration, or any other matters, rendered Appellees’ claims against him moot.

These two odd questions are more about the issues of “standing” than they are about the case itself. This could either be worrisome (indicating bad intent) or positive (indicating pre-emptive problem-solving.) The Tenth District’s U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the last court to hear the case before possibly proceeding next up to the final court of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Hence, this “next to last court” might be having a recent Decision by SCOTUS “nagging” the back of their mind.

Namely, as recently as 2013, SCOTUS vacated the Hollingsworth v. Perry case (instead of deciding it) simply because of the lack of correct “standing” issue. For many, the hope of that decision based “on its merits” potentiated it as a possibly very big case too. Truly, if Hollingsworth had been decided “on its merits” rather than being vacated on the technicality of improper “standing,” it might even have had impact on this Brown v. Buhman case. Instead, Hollingsworth had no positive impact for UCAP polygamy.

As such, there is a possibility that the motive behind the Appeals Court asking these two questions is a positive one; it could be that they want to proverbially “dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s” so that SCOTUS will not subsequently vacate this decision too due to the “standing” issue. However, if that is not the intent, then those two questions are worrisome; the questions could otherwise seem to suggest that the court itself is pro-actively looking for ways to intentionally allow such bad law to stay on the books by purposely trying to find such technicalities with which to stop the case at this lower-level court.

Regardless of positive or worrisome intent, however, if the issue of “standing” is so positively addressed and resolved, then that will actually strengthen the eventual case for when/if it moves up to SCOTUS.

With both sides currently preparing their briefs, the Brown v. Buhman case is scheduled for January 21, 2016, at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth District, in Denver, Colorado.

Sister Wives case Appealed at US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 10th District - 700x400

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