Appeals court has questions for ‘Sister Wives’

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DENVER — A federal appeals court has questions for lawyers as they prepare to argue over Utah’s polygamy ban.

In an order issued late Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered lawyers for the Utah Attorney General’s Office and reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives to file legal briefs addressing these questions:

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Essentially, the judges of the 10th Circuit Court want to know if Brown and his wives had any legal standing, and whether Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman really intended to prosecute them for bigamy.

The Browns, who star in the cable-TV show “Sister Wives,” sued the state over its ban on polygamy, arguing it violates their constitutional rights. In 2014, a federal judge struck down the cohabitation prong of Utah’s constitutional ban on plural marriage, essentially decriminalizing the practice. (Coincidentally, a week later another federal judge in Utah struck down the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.)

Polygamist Kody Brown (center) and his wives (left to right) Janelle, Meri, Robyn and Christine. (Image courtesy TLC)

Polygamist Kody Brown (center) and his wives (left to right) Janelle, Meri, Robyn and Christine. (Image courtesy TLC)

The state has appealed the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court. Arguments are set for January.

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