Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sister Wives Win on Summary Judgment

A federal district court has ruled in favor of the Sister Wives reality TV show plaintiffs in striking down part of Utah's anti-polygamy law reaching cohabitation.  The opinion might have been about gender, as one historic public policy against polygamy has been the protection of women.  Instead, the court takes on the elephant in the polygamy room and delves into the racist history of the Supreme Court's prohibiton of polygamy grounded in "orientalism."

It is worth noting the entrenched nature of an orientalist mindset among ruling elites during the time period when Reynolds was decided, an attitude that surely reached Congress and he United States Supreme Court as well. . . .


The practices were therefore objectionable because they were characteristic of "oriental" races including "Asiatic" and "African" peoples, both considered to be morally inferior based on such practices, and civilizationally inferior based on "the patriarchal principle" attributed to their societies, not to mention racially inferior. 

The New York Times further analysis of this important case is here.

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