Polygamy, a Modest Next Step

The New York Times reports today that George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley is expected to file a federal lawsuit tomorrow, on behalf of Kody Brown, an open practitioner of polygamy in Utah, arguing that the state’s law against having multiple spouses is unconstitutional.  This argument comes to us courtesy of Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court ruling establishing a constitutional “right” to homosexual sodomy.  Lawrence, of course, was the poisonous tree that bore predictable fruit mere months later when it was cited by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as support for its same-sex marriage ruling, notwithstanding the advance protestations in the Lawrence opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Mr. Brown has a Utah marriage license with only one of his four wives, and so he claims that any legal jeopardy in which he finds himself under Utah law would constitute an intrusion on his “private” choice of “intimate conduct.”  I suppose there will be the routine citations of the Casey-Lawrence “sweet mystery of life” reasoning too.

Of course the complete dismantling of all civil regulation of marital relations and sexual conduct is exactly where we have been heading ever since Justice Kennedy’s deeply foolish Lawrence opinion.  The Times manages to find one law professor willing to stick her fingers in her ears and say “la la la I can’t hear you” to the proposition that the Lawrence reasoning has propelled us in this direction.  And Professor Turley, dutifully speaking for his client, wants us to believe that his claim is a moderate and limited one.  But literally no one else has reason to believe such tripe.  Here we go.  Here we have always known we would go.

Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

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