Justices won't hear 'Sister Wives' appeal over bigamy law

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court said Monday it won't hear an appeal from the family on TV's "Sister Wives" challenging Utah's law banning polygamy.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling that said Kody Brown and his four wives can't sue over the law because they weren't charged under it.

A federal judge sided with the Browns and overturned key parts of the state's bigamy law in 2013, but an appeals court overturned that decision last year.

The Browns claim the law infringes on their right to freedom of speech and religion. The family said they should be able to challenge the law because the threat of prosecution forced them to flee to Nevada and still looms over them when they return to Utah.

Police investigated the family after their show premiered in 2010, but closed the case without filing any charges. The family argued in legal briefs that the state should not be able to thwart a constitutional challenge to the law "by changing its enforcement policy during the pendency of litigation."

Utah's law forbids married people from living with a second purported "spouse," making it stricter than anti-bigamy laws in other states and creating a threat of arrest for plural families. But state officials have followed a long tradition of not prosecuting polygamists unless they commit some other crime, such as child or spousal abuse, domestic violence or fraud.

The state says only 10 people were charged with violating the law between 2001 and 2011. Utah officials argue that the ban is important to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse.

Kody Brown is legally married to Meri Brown, but says he is "spiritually married" to three other women. They live together in a plural relationship and belong to a religious group that believes in polygamy as a core religious practice.

About 30,000 polygamists live in Utah, according to court documents. The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice in 1890 and strictly prohibits it today.

Court turns down Texas appeal over voter ID law

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from Texas in its effort to restore its strict voter identification law.

The justices said they will not review a lower court ruling that held the law was discriminatory. That court ordered changes in the law before the November election.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in a brief statement that the court could take up the case at a later date because the case is continuing in federal district court in Texas. A hearing that had been set for Tuesday was rescheduled for next month.

Texas softened what election experts said was among the toughest voter ID measures in the nation. But Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton had wanted the Supreme Court to restore the law to its original state.

As written, the law required showing one of seven forms of photo identification, allowing concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year by a 9-6 vote that Texas had violated the federal Voting Rights Act based on testimony that Hispanics were twice as likely and blacks three times more likely than whites to lack an acceptable ID under the law. Lower-income Texas residents also were more likely to lack necessary documents to obtain a free state voting ID, according to experts who supported the challenge.

The Supreme Court has been without a ninth justice since Justice Antonin Scalia's death nearly a year ago. President Donald Trump has said he will nominate a successor soon, and that person could be on the bench if and when the case returns to the Supreme Court.

Appeal over Illinois concealed-carry rules rejected

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal challenging Illinois' system for issuing permits for people to carry concealed weapons in public.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that upheld the state's requirements for obtaining a concealed-carry license.

Three men sued state officials after they said a state review board denied their permit requests without offering an adequate explanation. After the state amended its regulations in 2015, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the new requirements.

The new regulations require a review board to explain the basis for any denial and give an applicant 15 days to respond.

The men say the new rules still violate their due process rights.

Published: Wed, Jan 25, 2017