Supreme Court rejects 'Sister Wives' appeal over bigamy laws

Supreme Court rejects 'Sister Wives' appeal over bigamy laws
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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from the family featured in the TV show “Sister Wives” challenging Utah’s bigamy laws.

A lower court had tossed out the case because the Browns, a polygamist family, had not officially been charged under the law.

Kody Brown and his four wives — one of whom he’s legally married to and the other three he’s “spiritually married” to and refers to as his “sister wives” — claim Utah’s law violates their right to free speech and religion.

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Under Utah's law, a person is guilty of bigamy when they, knowing he or she has a husband or wife, marries or co-habitats with another person.

The Browns belong to the Apostolic United Brethren Church, which views polygamy as “a core religious practice,” according to court documents.

Utah authorities began investigating the family after they launched a reality TV show about the daily issues and realities of being a plural family on TLC in 2010.

Afraid they’d be prosecuted, the Browns moved to Nevada in January 2011.

Though the Utah County Attorney’s Office closed its case on the Browns and adopted a policy that only allows bigamy prosecutions to be brought against those who induce a partner to marry through misrepresentation or are suspected of committing a collateral crime such as fraud or abuse, the district court sided with the Browns.

The 10th Circuit, however, said the Browns’ case was moot before the district court awarded them relief and the court therefore lacked jurisdiction to decide the Browns’ claims.

The Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to hear the Browns' appeal means the 10th Circuit ruling stands.