This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Jan. 21 on whether a judge correctly struck down parts of Utah's ban on polygamy.
The case, called Brown v. Buhman, pits the state of Utah against the Brown family of the TLC show "Sister Wives."
Kody Brown and his four wives filed a lawsuit against Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman and the state after police in Lehi began investigating the family for suspicion of bigamy, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
No charges were filed, but in 2013, federal judge Clark Waddoups ruled in the Browns' favor and struck down the portion of the statute that criminalized three or more adults living together in marriage. Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that dealt with multiple marriage licenses.
In oral arguments and court papers, the Utah Attorney General's Office has argued polygamy is harmful to women and children, and that the state has an interest in preventing that harm.
The Browns' lawyer has argued there is no evidence polygamy is inherently harmful and there are no allegations of abuse or fraud in the Brown household. Since Waddoups' ruling, the Browns also have pointed to U.S. Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage as a rationale for why the Browns should be allowed to marry whom they choose.
The Browns are affiliated with the Apostolic United Brethren, also known as the Allred Group. Arguments in front of the appeals court are scheduled for the same date a federal trial in Phoenix will be underway to determine whether another polygamous sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has undue influence in the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City Ariz.