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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Did the Court's 2003 Ruling in Lawrence v. Texas inevitably lead to this?

Of Reality Shows, Polygamy, Sodomy and the Constitution

When, in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that intimate, consensual sexual activities were protected by the the due process clause of the 14th amendment, invalidating a Texas law prohibiting sodomy, Justice Antonin Scalia, in dissent, wrote that if legislatures were now to be banned from enacting laws that made moral choices, then why stop with sodomy? Shouldn't the Court also invalidate laws against bigamy, adult incest, prostitution, bestiality?

Well, here we go. In a case made for the 21st century, reality TV star Kody Brown and his four wives, Janelle, Christine, Meri, and Robyn, are challenging the state of Utah's ban on polygamy by arguing that, much like Texas's now invalid law against sodomy, the Utah law prosecutes them for their intimate, consensual relations. Brown, who appears with his four partners in the TLC reality program "Sister Wives," is being represented by Jonathan Turley, a professor at the Georgetown Law Center. In his complaint, Turley actually makes seven claims for relief: due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the ban on the establishment of state religion (the family claims polygamy as a religious practice). The Browns' appearance on TLC led Utah authorities to begin a criminal investigation. The "plural family," as they prefer to be known, has since fled to nearby Nevada.

Turley insists that the suit is in the spirit of the great justice Louis Brandeis who argued that one of the defining principles of America is "the right to be left alone." You can read the complaint on Turley's blog and search through dozens of posts on other laws he argues should be invalidated by the Court's ruling in Lawrence.

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