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Court Strikes Down Some Utah Polygamy Laws

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gov. Gary Herbert has expressed concern over a federal judge’s ruling that struck down key parts of Utah’s polygamy laws, saying his legal counsel would determine the ramifications of the decision.

Herbert says while he had not had a chance to review U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups’ ruling, he’s “always a little concerned” when public policy changes are made by the courts. The Republican governor told The Salt Lake Tribune he would “much rather see decisions on social issues” made by the Legislature, but he still needs “to understand the arguments and logic” that went into the ruling.

Waddoups, a nominee of President George W. Bush, said in his decision handed down Friday that a provision in Utah law forbidding cohabitation with another person violated the First Amendment right of freedom of religion. The ruling was a victory for Kody Brown and his four wives who star in the hit TLC reality show “Sister Wives.” The Brown family sued over Utah’s bigamy laws in July 2011 and fled Utah for Las Vegas last year under the threat of prosecution. Polygamy supporters have hailed the judge’s ruling, saying it decriminalizes the practice in Utah.

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