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Will 'Sister Wives' stars beat Utah's bigamy law?

The polygamous clan made famous on the TLC hit reality series "Sister Wives" has asked a federal judge in Utah to continue to let them challenge the state's bigamy laws.
/ Source: E!online

The Kody Brown Bunch is hoping to rewrite the rule books in Utah.

The polygamous clan made famous on the TLC hit reality series "Sister Wives" has asked a federal judge in Utah to continue to let them challenge the state's bigamy laws.

Here's what went down today.

Lawyers for Brown and his four wives — Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn — offered oral arguments this morning for an hour-and-a-half before U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, who, according to his clerk, took the case "under advisement" and plans to rule on the matter at an unspecified future date.

"The court gave us a fair hearing and we will await his decision," Brown's attorney and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley tells E! News. "We are committed to pursuing these claims on behalf of the Brown family wherever they take us in the legal system."

The family filed a lawsuit in Salt Lake City District Court back in July claiming Utah's bigamy law is unconstitutional because it criminalizes their private sexual relationships and prohibits them from living together. They've told the court they fear being punished by the statute, which they say has caused them irreprable harm and forced them to temporarily move to Nevada.

"The Brown's remain subject to potential persecution due to their status as a plural family," reads the complaint. "The family used their savings and moved their 17 children to Nevada in January after the state of Utah opened up a bigamy investigation on them."

(Kody is legally married only to Meri and the other three "sister wives" are so-called "commitments.")

The ever-expanding family belongs to the Apostolic United Brethren Church, which is centered in Salt Lake City, but per court docs, "due to the low of AUB members in Nevada, the Brown's cannot fully perform their religious practices outside of Utah and must return to Utah to engage in certain religious practices."

Part of the suit's aim is to make it safe for the Brown's and their 21-strong brood to move back to Utah.

"This family is asking no more than any family deserves: to be heard in the courts," says Turley. "This challenge was brought to benefit not just polygamists but all citizens who wish to live their lives according to their own values — even if those values run counter to those of the majority in the state."

The Utah Attorney General's Office has asked Waddoups to toss the suit on the grounds that because it's unlikely prosecutors will go after the clan and the family failed to show how they've been injured by the state.

AG Mark Shurtleff has previously said his staff does not have the resources to prosecute polygamists unless they discovered more serious offenses, such as incest , statutory rape or abuse.

None of the Browns attended today's proceeding, prefering to let their attorneys do the talking on behalf of their privacy rights.

"While the state has asked for the courthouse doors to be shut to this family," says Turley, "we believe they have a right to be heard on the unconstitutionality of this law."