Law

Court Finds Mormonism is Not “Protestantism”

October 16, 2008 | 19 comments
By

An appellate court in Arkansas last week refused to overturn a lower court ruling which found a woman’s ex-husband in contempt of court for failing to raise their minor children “in the Protestant faith” after the ex-husband started promoting his Mormonism to their children. While many Mormons, and the Church itself even, would agree with the idea that Mormonism is not a Protestant faith, it seems to me that having courts making theological determinations about what denominations constitute “Protestant” is wading into some pretty murky territory. What if the custody agreement had stipulated... Read more »

Morality, Legality and Alcohol

September 24, 2008 | 20 comments
By

The church issued a statement about alcohol laws in Utah. The last paragraph reads: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that Utahns, including those who work in the hospitality industry, can come together as citizens, regardless of religion or politics, to support laws and regulations that allow individual freedom of choice while preserving Utah’s proven positive health and safety record on limiting the tragic consequences of overconsumption of alcohol.” Read more »

Changing Conceptions of Zion

September 8, 2008 | 26 comments
By

The Mormon conception of Zion has changed dramatically over the past century. Today’s members of the church are likely to define “Zion” as wherever the members of the church are: LDS homes, congregations, and stakes. While the conception of Zion in the 19th century may have included these elements, these Saints were determined to literally be Zion communities Read more »

Korihor and the United States Reports

July 1, 2008 | 40 comments
By

Let’s read the Book of Mormon as a commentary on American constitutional law and vice versa. Alma 30:7-10 reads: Read more »

Prophecy vs. History

March 24, 2006 | 32 comments
By

Not too long ago, I stumbled across the PBS presentation of Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel (2d ed. 1999). It reminded me of dealing with the book at college and enjoying the ideas presented and the sweeping take of world history that it offered. But while watching the presentation and contemplating the message of the book itself, I was reminded about how much Diamond’s whole analysis depends solely on inference from extremely scant historical evidence. Read more »

Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press

October 26, 2005 | 15 comments
By

I see that Slate now puts the odds of Harriet Miers confirmation at 70%. Silly Slate, don’t they know that niche is taken? As I’ve mentioned before, the best bet, literally, is to follow the gamblers. And as of press time, they are betting that Miers has a 3 in 10 chance of making it to the Big Bench. Want a second opinion? It’s pretty much the same as the first. Read more »

Joseph Smith, Justice Frankfurter and the Great Writ

January 28, 2005 | 31 comments
By

It is time for the post that you have all been waiting for, the one of the place of Mormonism in habeas corpus jurisprudence. Read more »

The English Nature of the Mormon Constitution

January 24, 2005 | 96 comments
By

The Church has a certain amount of constitutional law, by which I mean norms and rules that govern and control its institutional structure. What is the nature of this constitutional law? I would submit that the Church ends up being more English than American. Priesthood quorums illustrate why this is so. Read more »

How Corporations Saved the United Order (kind of)

December 23, 2004 | 9 comments
By

One of the great advantages of blogging is that you can ramble on regardless of whether or not what you are saying is of any interest to anyone else. Hence this post. I feel it is time that we had the discussion that you have all be waiting for: The one on real estate leases, corporate law, and the United Order. Read more »

In Defense of Suing Before the Ungodly

November 30, 2004 | 38 comments
By

I recently had dinner with a good friend, who, according to his former doctor, is going to hell. Read more »

LDS Perspectives on the Law: Part II

November 24, 2004 | 10 comments
By

I think that there are basically three ways in which law and Mormonism can shed light on one another. Read more »

Galen, Holmes & Hot Drinks

October 18, 2004 | 29 comments
By

One of the odder bits of Mormon interpretation is the strange life of “hot drinks.â€? These are the actual beverages forbidden by the Word of Wisdom. As we all know they have come to mean coffee and tea with hot chocolate and Diet Coke forming border cases for some, and no one really objecting to herb tea or hot cider. What is going on here? Read more »

The Reynolds Jury Charge

August 14, 2004 | 13 comments
By

The trial court in Reynolds v. United States gave the following jury charge, which the Supreme Court later found was proper and not inflammatory. I think it not improper, in the discharge of your duties in this case, that you should consider what are to be the consequences to the innocent victims of this delusion. As this contest goes on, they multiply, and there are pure-minded women and there are innocent children, innocent in a sense even beyond the degree of the innocence of childhood itself. These are to be the sufferers; and as jurors fail to do their... Read more »

Dead Man Walking

August 12, 2004 | 67 comments
By

Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun, published Dead Man Walking in 1993. I am just finishing the book, which reinforces my long-held disdain for the death penalty. I have not seen the movie, but the book is a powerful accounting of Sister Helen’s experiences counseling death-row inmates in Louisiana. Read more »

Activist Courts and the Legal Consequences of Temple Marriage

August 7, 2004 | 14 comments
By

With all of the fuss lately over marriage, it can be fun to think back to the good old days. The years prior to 1908, for instance — when temple marriage was a disqualification for voting or office-holding in one heavily Mormon state. Read more »

Mormonism and Quetzalcoatl in Court

July 27, 2004 | 9 comments
By

While we’re on the topic of court decisions about the church, it’s always fun to mention the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Alvarado v. City of San Jose, 94 F. 3d 1223 (1996). The plaintiffs in that case sought to enjoin the installation (and later, force the removal) of a Quetzalcoatl statue, on the grounds that, inter alia, it violated the California Constitution because it promoted Mormon beliefs. The court dismissed the claim, noting: While Mormons are clearly a recognized religious group, the evidence presented by the plaintiffs does not support a First Amendment argument. The writings suggest that, according... Read more »

The Book of Mormon in Court

July 27, 2004 | one comment
By

I think that most people know that passages from the Bible pop up from time to time in judicial opinions. For example, many old common law rules turned on the distinction between acts that were malum in se (that is wrong in and of themselves) and malum prohibitum (that is wrong simply because they are legally proscribed). The Ten Commandments were regularly used as a touchstone in making this distinction. The question presents itself: What sort of a life – if any – has the Book of Mormon led in the pages of the court reporters? Read more »

“On Equal Grounds”

July 20, 2004 | 4 comments
By

The story of Korihor in Alma 30 contains many lessons for the modern audience. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most interesting part of the chapter to me is the discussion of law in verses 7-11. In particular, this discussion is bookended by the concept of equality: 7. “Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.” 12. “… Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes... Read more »

UofU and Theatre Student Settle

July 15, 2004 | 62 comments
By

Christina Axson-Flynn’s lawsuit against the University of Utah garnered lots of attention, but I am not sure that we have discussed it here. The events took place in 1998, and revolve around Axson-Flynn’s experience in the University of Utah’s Actor Training Program (ATP). When she refused to use vulgar and profane language, her instructors pressured her to “get over it.” In the face of her refusal to change her views, the instructors escalated the pressure, and she ultimately decided to leave the program. In the wake of her withdrawal, she sued the University and her instructors for violating her... Read more »

Constitutional Turnabout

June 25, 2004 | 34 comments
By

According to reports this week, the leadership of the United States Senate is currently considering whether to bring to a vote a proposed constitutional amendment to define the nature of marriage. There is widespread agreement that the proposal lacks the necessary votes to pass, suggesting that the vote is primarily intended to make a political issue of the proposed amendment’s subject matter during an election year. Still, many constituencies remain highly exercised over what they perceive to be the necessity of such an amendment to resolve the matter of single-sex marriage. Curiously, these constituencies seem largely to be the... Read more »

Oops — I forgot

June 21, 2004 | 22 comments
By

The judicial nomination of Thomas Griffith, General Counsel of Brigham Young University and Bush appointee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals seems to have hit a slight snag — as reported by this morning’s Washington Post, Griffith appears to have been acting as the University’s chief legal officer without the little detail of a license to practice law. Apparently Griffith’s admission to the District of Columbia bar lapsed for failure to pay his dues, and he never quite got around to sitting for the Utah bar. Highly embarassing, but perhaps not fatal to the nomination if no one’s... Read more »

The Criminal Law of Deseret

May 25, 2004 | 19 comments
By

On January 16, 1851, the legislature of the State of Deseret passed a 34-section law entitled “Criminal Laws of the State of Deseret.” It actually makes for interesting reading. In 1851, the Mormons had been in Utah for only four years. The Territory of Utah had been formed in 1850, but federal authority in Utah was weak to completely non-existent. It would be another six years before any serious outside authority in the form of Johnston’s Army arrived. In other words, Mormon theocracy was firmly in the saddle, the real legal authority was clearly the State of Deseret and... Read more »

Fruity Con Law at Meridian

May 19, 2004 | 23 comments
By

The ever exciting Meridian Magazine has been running a series of articles that purport to be “Constitutional Primers,” explaining to Mormons the way that the constitution functions. The most recent one argues that what is known as “selective incorporation” under the 14th amendment is a mistake. This doesn’t sound all that interesting or exciting, but it actually is. I promise. Read more »

Some More Thoughts on Oaths

May 12, 2004 | 22 comments
By

As I have a tendency to do, I have been reading law today. In particular, I came across a case dealing with the old rule against party testimony. Originally at common law, a party to a lawsuit could not testify in the suit. There were two justifications for the rule. The first was that the parties to a suit had an incentive to lie in their own interested and therefore their testimony was unreliable. The second justification was that testimony was given under oath, which gave it grave theological significance. Perjury was more than a crime. By virtue of... Read more »

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.