List of polygamy court cases

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Polygamy is the state of being married to more than one person at the same time. It is illegal in many countries. The following is a list of polygamy court cases:


United Kingdom[edit]

  • Hyde v. Hyde (1866) {L.R.} 1 P. & D. 130 — established the modern understanding and legal definition of marriage
  • Bethell v. Hillyard (1885) 38 Ch.D. 220. [1885 B. 2119.] — a potentially polygamous marriage is void
  • R v Smith 1994 15 Cr App R (S) 407 — used divorce papers to marry again[3]
  • R v Cairns [1997] 1 Cr App R (S) — used polygamy to circumvent immigration controls[3]

United States[edit]

19th century
20th century
  • Chatwin v. United States, 326 U.S. 455 (1946) — underaged polygamous marriage with consent not prosecutable under the Federal Kidnapping Act
  • Cleveland v. United States, 329 U.S. 14 (1946) — polygamous marriage an "immoral purpose" under the Mann Act
  • Musser v. Utah, 333 U.S. 95 (1948) — polygamy not religious free speech
  • In re Black, 3 Utah 2d 315 (1955) [283 P.2d 887][4] — raising children in a polygamist household is evidence of child neglect; the state can remove and retain custody of children while their parents unlawful cohabitation continues
  • Potter v. Murray City, 760 F.2d 1065 (10th Cir. 1985)[5] — "the State is justified, by a compelling interest, in upholding and enforcing its ban on plural marriage"
  • Barlow v. Blackburn, 165 Ariz. 351, 356, 798 P.2d 1360, 1365 (App.1990)[6] — "Barlow's practice of polygamy justif[ies] revoking or suspending his peace officer certification" as "Arizona's constitutional prohibition against polygamy is valid" and "Arizona's compelling state interest [...] justifies an infringement upon Barlow's religiously-motivated conduct"
  • In re Adoption of W.A.T. (a.k.a. Johanson v. Fischer), 808 P.2d 1083 (Utah 1991)[7] — "no legitimate basis for the courts to disqualify all bigamists (polygamists) as potential adopters"
  • Barlow v. Evans, 993 F.Supp. 1390 (D.Utah 1997)[8]Fair Housing Act prohibition of religious discrimination does not provide protection for polygamists
21st century
  • State of Utah v. Green (a.k.a. State v. Green, Utah v. Green), 2004 UT 76 [99 P.3d 820][9] — Utah's polygamy ban upheld
  • Warren Jeffs prosecution
  • Brown v. Buhman, 11-cv-0652-CW (2013)[10] — the portions of Utah's anti-polygamy laws which prohibit multiple cohabitation ruled unconstitutional, but Utah allowed to maintain its ban on multiple marriage licenses[11][12][13][14]
  • Carrick v. Snyder , 5:2015cv10108, current case before Michigan's Eastern District Federal brought by the Rev. Neil Patrick Carrick holding that it is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to prohibit clergy from performing same sex wedding ceremonies.[15][16]
  • Collier et al v. Fox et al, 1:15-cv-00083, current case brought by Nathan Collier et al in Montana District Court, seeking a marriage license for Nathan Collier and Christine Collier. Nathan Collier currently has a legal marriage with Victoria Collier.
  • Mayle v. Orr et al, 17-cv-00449,[17] brought by Kenneth Mayle in U.S. District 7 (Northern Illinois) seeking to strike Illinois laws on Bigamy,[18] Adultery,[19][20][21] and Fornication[22] laws based on religious beliefs, practice, and philosophies of Satanism and Thelema including Enochian Sex Magick. The complaint claims these laws violate the 1st and 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The case was dismissed on 4/10/2017. An attempt at an appeal was denied on 11/3/2017 based on a procedural error.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reference re: Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada, 2011 BCSC 1588", British Columbia: Supreme Court of British Columbia [], Canadian Legal Information Institute
  2. ^ Phelan, Alexandra (23 November 2011), "Case notes: Canadian Court says criminalisation of polygamy is a valid limitation on the right to freedom and liberty",, Human Rights Law Centre (Melbourne, Vic)
  3. ^ a b "Sentencing manual: Bigamy", Prosecution Policy and Guidance: Legal Guidance [], Crown Prosecution Service, retrieved 2014-09-17
  4. ^ "In Re State in Interest of Black", Utah Case Law: Utah Supreme Court Decisions, 1955, Justia []
  5. ^ "760 F. 2d 1065 - Potter v. Murray City G M L",, OpenJurist
  6. ^ Barlow v. Blackburn, 798 P. 2d 1360 - Ariz: Court of Appeals, 1st Div., Dept. C 1990 – via Google Scholar
  7. ^ "Matter of Adoption of WAT", Utah Case Law: Utah Supreme Court Decisions, 1991, Justia []
  8. ^ "Barlow v. Evans, 993 F. Supp. 1390 (D. Utah 1997)",, CourtListener, Free Law Project
  9. ^ "State of Utah v. Green", Utah Case Law: Utah Supreme Court Decisions, 2004, Justia []
  10. ^ Waddoups, Clark (December 13, 2013), Memorandum Decision And Order Granting In Part Plaintiffs' Motion For Summary Judgement, Case No. 2:11-cv-0652-CW
  11. ^ Schwartz, John (September 14, 2013), "A Law Prohibiting Polygamy is Weakened", New York Times
  12. ^ Mears, Bill (December 14, 2013). "'Sister Wives' case: Judge strikes down part of Utah polygamy law". CNN. Retrieved 2013-12-19.
  13. ^ Peggy Fletcher Stack (December 14, 2013), "Laws on Mormon polygamists lead to win for plural marriage", The Salt Lake Tribune, retrieved 2013-12-19
  14. ^ Reversed by 10th Circuit in Brown v. Buhman, 822 F.3d 1151 (10th Cir. 2016).
  15. ^ "Carrick v. Snyder et al". Justia Dockets & Filings.
  16. ^ Oralandar Brand-Williams, The Detroit News (13 January 2015). "Minister sues Mich. for right to marry same-sex couples".
  17. ^ "Mayle v. Orr, Dist. Court, ND Illinois 2017". Google Scholar. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Illinois General Assembly - Illinois Compiled Statutes". Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Satanist to Chicago Judge: Anti-Adultery Law Has 'Chilling Effect' On Relationships". NBC Chicago. NBC. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Illinois judge tosses adultery-related suit from Satanist". Fox 2 News. Fox News. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Illinois General Assembly - Illinois Compiled Statutes". Retrieved 2017-05-17.