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Reynolds v. United States (1879)
Transcript of Reynolds v. United States (1879)
by: Caroline Hollis Background Information In 1847, Brigham Young led Mormon pioneers to settle near the Great Salt Lake in the Utah Territory.
Mormon teaching is based on the Book of Mormon (revealed to Joseph Smith), and it includes the practice of polygamy.
Polygamy was not a popularized practice among people of other faiths.
A ban was placed on polygamy in Utah. George Reynolds was a Mormon living in Utah at the time. George Reynolds He was married to Mary Ann Tuddenham and Amelia Jane Schofield at the same time. Living in Utah, he was charged with violating the ban on the grounds of his "criminal intent." He was charged and convicted in District Court, but he appealed his case. He presided over Reynold's case in the Supreme Court. He was very conservative. Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite Am I pretty? 1st Amendment: inclusion of freedom of religion
He said that he was simply practicing the tenants of his faith.
He claimed that his sentence (two years in jail and $500 fine) was based upon an unconstitutional accusation. Reynold's Argument
Claimed that the 1st Amendment could not be used to cover criminal behavior.
The polygamy ban in Utah was constitutional.
Polygamy disrupts public order. Argument of the United States Chief Justice Waite wrote and delivered the decision, as decided by a 6-3 vote in the Supreme Court: The Ruling "Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order." Opposite ruling would cause every other religious affilated case to be circumstantial. For example, Hindu "suttee," which is when the widow of a man is burned on the funeral pyre, would hardly be deemed constitutional. The Reasoning in Decision There is a difference between "freedom of conscience" (protected) and "freedom of religious action" (unprotected).
Polygamy was deemed unjust for a civilized society. The Precedent but in states such as Nevada, there have been ways around the law. Bigamy (having more than one marriage at the same time) is illegal, “Case 6- Reynolds v. United States (1879).” GCHS. N.P. Web.
8 Jan 2012.
Linder, Doug. “Reynolds v. Untied States.” Exploring
Constitutional Law. N.p. 2011. Web. 8 Jan 2012.
“Polygamy Laws.” Marriage Laws.” N.p. 2011. Web. 8 Jan 2012.