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Appeals court restores Utah’s polygamy law in ‘Sister Wives’ case

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The polygamist family featured in the reality television show “Sister Wives” lost its bid to overturn parts of Utah’s anti-bigamy law under a federal appeals court ruling issued on Monday.

The case, filed after the show’s popularity prompted a criminal investigation into whether star Kody Brown was illegally married to four women, drew international attention and raised questions about whether the state could bar consenting adults from living together as a family.

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Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states. But Utah’s law is unique in that a person can be found guilty not just for having two legal marriage licenses, but also for cohabiting with another adult in a marriage-like relationship when already legally married to someone else.

Brown is legally married to one of his wives, and “spiritually” married to the others.

In 2013, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups struck down part of the state’s law, saying it criminalizes intimate relationships among consenting adults.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit overturned that ruling on Monday. The court said because the Browns had not actually been charged under the law – and the state said it would not prosecute multiple marriage cases unless there were allegations of fraud or criminal activity – the case was moot.

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“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,” the court wrote. “They lack power to decide issues – however important or fiercely contested – that are detached from a live dispute between the parties.”

Utah is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, which abandoned polygamy in 1890 as Utah was seeking statehood. Some sects and breakaway groups, however, follow the early doctrine of plural marriage.

The Brown family and their 17 children are members of the Apostolic United Brethren, a Utah-based church which follows a plural marriage doctrine.

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The family’s attorney, legal scholar Jonathan Turley, said in a blog post Monday he would appeal the decision.

“The Brown family is obviously disappointed in the ruling but remains committed to this fight for the protections of religion, speech and privacy in Utah,” Turley wrote.

But Utah Federal Solicitor Parker Douglas said the state had a legitimate interest in prosecuting abuses that can arise in polygamous relationships.

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Shortly after Waddoups struck down the law, a woman alleged that her polygamous husband had shunned her and planned to “sell” their daughter and a niece, and he was not able to use the bigamy law in prosecution, Douglas said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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2020 Election

He’s trying ‘to get under Trump’s skin’: Reporter Olivia Nuzzi outlines Joe Walsh’s impact on 2020

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Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton explained during an MSNBC panel discussion that former Rep. Joe Walsh isn't likely to peel away many voters from Trump as someone who is "Trump-light." New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi, however, thinks Walsh with have a more significant impact, whether or not he can win the primary race.

During a CNN panel discussion, Nuzzi similarly noted that Walsh's primary purpose could be to troll the president.

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Boris Johnson ‘tremendously humiliated’ Donald Trump on a global scale at G-7 meeting: CNN analyst

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United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of President Donald Trump's favorite people to take over for Theresa May when she resigned this summer. But Johnson also mocked the U.S. president and humiliated him on a global scale, said New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi.

During a panel discussion on CNN Sunday, CNN's Ryan Lizza opened by saying that Johnson is in a tight spot as he's trying to negotiate Brexit while serving as an international leader to the G-7. Johnson also needs to negotiate a trade deal with Trump, but he clearly is going about it in the worst possible way.

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Trump allies acquiring ‘dirt’ on journalists to take them down during the 2020 election

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President Donald Trump's war against the media has taken a next step. According to The New York Times, Trump's allies have been compiling information on reporters at CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times to strike back because the president believes they "aggressively investigated" him.

The information was revealed Sunday using information disclosed by associates of conservative Arthur Schwartz, who is spearheading the project. Schwartz is an adviser to Donald Trump Jr. and previously worked with Steve Bannon.

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