The Mormon Underground Fights Back

(Page 2 of 7)

The Lord will fight our battles

And we'll help Him if we can

If what they now propose to do

Should ever come to pass

We'll burn up every inch of wood

And every blade of grass

We'll throw down all our houses

Every soul shall emigrate

And we'll organize ourselves

Into a roving mountain state

A peace agreement was finally reached, and Young allowed the army to pass through Salt Lake City to establish Camp Floyd, 30 miles south-but not before he ordered the temporary evacuation of virtually the entire population of the city and took down the American flags. In a proclamation issued before the peace, Young lamented, "For the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the Government, from Constables and Justices to Judges, Governors, and Presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted and betrayed."

ROY POTTER, the modern-day polygamist, is fighting back in the best Mormon tradition. He first petitioned the Murray City Civil Service Commission for reinstatement to the police force. The commission was glad to be of service-if Potter would abandon his living arrangement. He rejected the offer.

Potter then mounted a challenge to Utah's anti-polygamy law on two fronts. He spoke out publicly for the rights of polygamists, in forums as diverse as the Donahue show and Us magazine. And he filed a lawsuit, which was heard in the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1985.

Potter argued to the court that the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment and the right to privacy under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment ensured him and his wives the right to engage in a plural marriage. He cited a 1972 case, Wisconsin v. Yoder, in which the Supreme Court held that the state could not compel Amish families to send their children to public schools beyond the eighth grade. He also cited Briggs v. North Muskegon Police Department, a 1984 case in which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a police officer and awarded him damages after he was dismissed for illegally cohabitating with a woman to whom he was not married.

Court records show that the Potter children had not been neglected, that the wives had entered into plural marriage with full knowledge and consent, and that "the practice of polygamy did not affect [Potter's] performance" as a police officer. All this the court admitted in its finding of facts.

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