Reynolds v. United States

PETITIONER:George Reynolds
RESPONDENT:United States
LOCATION:

DOCKET NO.: None
DECIDED BY: Waite Court (1877-1880)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court for the Utah Territory

ARGUED: Nov 14, 1878 / Nov 15, 1878
DECIDED: Jan 06, 1879

ADVOCATES:
Ben Sheeks – for Reynolds
Charles Devens – Attorney General, Department of Justice, argued the cause for the United States
George W. Biddle – for Reynolds
Samuel Field Phillips – Solicitor General, Department of Justice, argued the cause for the United States

Facts of the case

George Reynolds, secretary to Mormon Church leader Brigham Young, challenged the federal anti-bigamy statute. Reynolds was convicted in a Utah territorial district court. His conviction was affirmed by the Utah territorial supreme court.

Question

Does the federal anti-bigamy statute violate the First Amendment’s free exercise clause because plural marriage is part of religious practice?