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Pro-Polygamists Relieved Supreme Court Refused to Hear Holm Case

Date: Feb 26, 2007
Word Count: 750 words
Cross-Reference: Rodney Holm, polygamy rights, Lawrence v. Texas


As the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal by Rodney Holm – who is another member of the Utah-local rogue Mormon Polygamy sect, the FLDS – pro-polygamists around the country are relieved that that inapplicable underage case will not be used for setting precedent on polygamy rights for consenting adults.

On February 26, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal by Mormon Polygamist, Rodney Holm. Not only were national polygamy rights activists not surprised by the Court’s refusal, many were quite relieved. 
 
Rodney Holm was a member of the FLDS, "the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." That rogue Mormon Polygamy sect is the same one led by former-fugitive on the FBI's Top Ten List, Warren Jeffs. The FLDS' involvement with underage and arranged marriage has long been opposed at the national level of the movement for polygamy rights for consenting-adults. Christian Polygamists, secular polygamists, and others have opposed such criminal activities of the FLDS - even many non-FLDS Mormon Polygamists opposed them too. 
 
In 2003, Holm was convicted in Utah of two counts of unlawful sexual contact with a minor and one count of bigamy. Although legally married to one woman, he was later "religiously married" to the then-16-year-old sister of his legal wife. The birth of two children by the time she was 18 proved her age at the time of the conceptions. 
 
Holm first appealed his convictions to the Utah State Supreme Court. Upholding those convictions on May 16, 2006, that Court decided to "have its cake and eat it too." 
 
Because Holm had never been legally married to the then-16 year old, little deliberation was required to find him guilty of the two counts of unlawful sexual contact. Yet, Utah law permits a man to legally marry a 16 year old with parental consent. For Holm to be found guilty of the underage charges, the Utah State Supreme Court ultimately determined that he was not married to her. 
 
Thereby, the Court sought to "have its cake." 
 
Conversely, to obtain a finding of guilt for the subsequent count of bigamy, the Court had to determine that Holm was married to her. In order to do so, the proven co-habitation and the free speech act of Holms' "purporting to marry" her had both provided sufficient evidence in the Court's determination that they were married. The Utah State Supreme Court even went so far as to determine that a marriage does not have to be defined by legal license – an ironic position considering that pro-polygamists have always posited that marriage is not defined by government license. For Holm to be found guilty of the bigamy charge, the Utah State Supreme Court determined that he was married to her. 
 
Thereby, the Court sought to "eat its cake, too." 
 
Since the two underage sexual counts require the determination that he was not married to her, then one could argue that such a guilt finding perceivably renders the bigamy charge as fallacious. A person is not married if they are not married. 
 
Conversely, since the bigamy count requires the determination that he was married to her, then one could argue that such a guilt finding perceivably renders the two underage charges as fallacious. A person who is married is allowed to have marital relations. 
 
So which is it? Was Holm not married to her and thus guilty of the two counts of sexual contact with a minor? Or was he married to her and thus guilty of bigamy? Logic dictates only a single determination. 
 
But rather than choose one side either way, the Court instead sought to "have its cake and eat it too." It effectively said, "Both." The convictions were upheld. 
 
Holm subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  
 
An argument could be made that Utah’s age of consent laws give unequal and special rights. Monogamists are granted unequal special rights to marry a 16 year old with parental consent, while the act of polygamists doing the exact same thing is criminalized. Equality under the law requires either prohibiting everyone – polygamists and monogamists - from marrying anyone under 18 or setting one universal age of consent for everyone. 
 
But that is an argument about age of consent – not polygamy.  
 
Even so, Holm's appeal cited Lawrence v. Texas (2003) for justification, even though that precedent only applied to consenting adults. Therein was the fatal flaw for Holm’s appeal. While Lawrence v. Texas can apply to polygamy cases for consenting adults, it certainly does not apply to cases with 16 year olds. 
 
Consequently, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. Lawrence v. Texas was left untainted for use in consenting-adult polygamy cases. 
 
Accordingly, as polygamy rights have never been about underage issues, anyway, consenting-adult pro-polygamists around the country were quite relieved by the Court’s refusal. 


###


Bibliographic URLs:

http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/local/43109.php 
http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660198871,00.html 
 
http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/supopin/Holm051606.pdf 
http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635208050,00.html 


[Reviewed for publication - Pro-Polygamy.com Review Board.]




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