COULD THE SUPREME COURT MAKE POLYGAMY LEGAL? 07/13/2008


by Chris Vanocur
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Is the U.S. Supreme Court about to rule polygamy a protected religious practice? One of Utah's top attorneys is now predicting the justices will do exactly that.

Brian Barnard has not only defended polygamists in the past, later this year he will even appear before the U.S. Supreme Court on another matter.

And Barnard says the legalization of polygamy may not be that far away.

Barnard says, "If consenting adults want to practice polygamy based upon their religious beliefs, I think the Constitution and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold that right."

But Barnard also believes what it will take a special type of case to get to the highest court in the land. “One of the things that's going to be necessary in order to get that issue resolved is a clean case, if you will. Not a case where there's also welfare fraud or statutory rape or anything else involved," sys Barnard.

Barnard feels someone who is prosecuted just for polygamy would have a good chance of eventually winning in court.

"Two thousand, three thousand years ago, people practiced polygamy for religious reasons and were authorized to do so based upon their religious beliefs," says Barnard.

However, Barnard feels some Utah prosecutors, including Mark Shurtleff, are reluctant to prosecute polygamy because they know a legal ban on polygamy might then be found unconstitutional.

"Mark Shurtleff has the right to prosecute those people but chooses not to," says Barnard.

Previously, Shurtleff has talked about the difficulty of prosecuting polygamists, if nothing else because of the sheer numbers involved.

The entire interview with Brian Barnard can be seen on this Sunday morning’s "On the Record" at 9:30 a.m.




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