Utah Man Convicted of Polygamy

May 24, 2001

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

On May 24, 2001, The San Diego Union-Tribune published an op-ed article by Henry Mark Holzer, a First Amendment rights expert and a professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School, in which he condemned the conviction of Tom Green for polygamy. Holzer wrote that "the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion." The Supreme Court ruling in a similar nineteenth-century case, Reynolds vs. United States, "reeks with blatant racism." The justices in that case condemned polygamy because it was "almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and African people." Holzer continued that polygamy is "a practice accepted by every major religion save Christianity," that "no evidence was produced to support the notion that the child of a polygamous marriage is worse off than a child born illegitimate or one with divorced or separated parents," and that "polygamy is non-coercive."