The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 disenfranchised the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The law was enacted by Congress to punish the church for practicing polygamy. The church challenged the law, but following an 1890 ruling in which the law was declared constitutional, Wilford Woodruff issued Official Declaration 1 (also known as “The Manifesto”) in which he stated
Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.
… I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.
Recently Kody Brown won a case in Utah in which polygamy was de-criminalized. What are your thoughts concerning polygamy?
There is no way that the 19th century laws are anything but a violation of the intent of the 1st amendment or of the 10th amendment. They should have been declared unconstitutional then, but that was almost the same court that produced the great Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. Now if only there were a recent religious rights act with the same power that the 60’s civil rights acts had in swinging the legal pendulum over the other way.
He is one brave dude.