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George Reynolds Polygamy Case Study

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Reynolds v. United States was a controversial court case surrounding George Reynolds and his right to practice a specific tradition in his religion: polygamy. Reynolds was a caucasian man living in Utah whose right to freedom of religion was put in question after he was convicted of polygamy. Reynolds was a member of the mormon community, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time that this incident took place, the mormon society still backed polygamy. Polygamy, also known as bigamy, is the practice of having more than one spouse. Reynolds was a very family-oriented man. He married his first wife Mary Ann Tuddenham in 1865. He served his community in many ways including serving on city council. However, his…show more content…
It appeared that Reynolds believed it was in fact his duty to practice plural marriage. If he failed to do so he would, “ face eternal damnation,” (@brinstitute). Reynolds v. United States was arguable one of the first court cases to argue that a law was violating the right in the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution to practice freedom of religion. (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, a.n.d.) Reynolds argument remained consistent throughout the case stating that a federal law should stand in the way of one’s freedom of…show more content…
However, I will say that at the time I can understand how religious freedom rights may come across as very loose and not well defined. Only due to the fact that this case was one of the first to challenge an, “unfair,” federal law. Reynolds v. US is extremely interesting simply because during this time period, some laws were very undefined, leaving people in the dark about what is lawful and what is not. It seems that nowadays laws do not come off this was as they are very well defined and clear to understand.
Reynolds v. United States was a first for the United States Supreme Court in the aspect that freedom of religion was placed into question. Laws around this time could been seen as very loose and non-specific. As previously stated, this law can be found in Europe as well at the time. Despite George Reynolds attempts to convince the court that the law making polygamy illegal was unconstitutional, it failed. Today, polygamy is still illegal in the United States due to this
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