Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Federal Judge in Utah Rules People Can Live Together if They Want – New York Times Totally Misconstrues the Case

Reporting at Its Worst – Freedom at Its Best

Here is the headline from the New York Times article on a federal court ruling on whether or not the state of Utah could prohibit co-habitation among more than just one man and one woman.

A Utah Law Prohibiting Polygamy Is Weakened

That headline is factually and analytically incorrect.  In fact the ruling stated specifically that Utah could continue to deny the right of polygamy, which is the legal, state sanctioned marriage between more than two individuals.

So what did happen?  Well the court has ruled that no, the state of Utah cannot prohibit more than two people living together. More than two people living together is not polygamy  And it is none of the business of the state how people live as long as the arrangements are voluntary and not harmful to anyone.  In short it is the very heart of a conservative ruling by a presumably conservative judge appointed by the conservative Republican President George W. Bush.

Judge Clark Waddoups of United States District Court in Utah ruled late Friday that part of the state’s law prohibiting “cohabitation” — the language used in the law to restrict polygamous relationships — violates the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion, as well as constitutional due process. He left standing the state’s ability to prohibit multiple marriages “in the literal sense” of having two or more valid marriage licenses.

Judge Waddoups, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote a 91-page decision that reflects — and reflects upon — the nation’s changing attitude toward government regulation of personal affairs and unpopular groups. The Supreme Court supported the power of states to restrict polygamy in an 1879 decision, Reynolds v. United States.

So why the erroneous, completely misleading headline?  Probably lazy incompetent journalism; in other words, the industry standard in 2013.

As for conservatives one waits to hear their applause of the ruling, their ecstasy that the court has ruled that no, the state of Utah cannot intervene in the private lives of its citizens where no legal issue with respect to the state of Utah are involved.  Of course no such applause will be forthcoming.  Conservatives do not want the state to leave citizens alone, they want the state to mandate citizens behave the way conservatives want them to behave.  

Reporting that would be true journalism.

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