While we have never agreed with Warren Jeff’s underage marriages and abuses that have led to his conviction, and applaud the efforts to arrest and convict him for those abuses, we have been concerned about the way the State of Utah went about this course. Liberty should never be trampled no matter how much we want to justify the ends. Our Republic demands that we adhere to its principles of liberty in order to not fall into the whims of the populace.
As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune today, tomorrow marks a big decision in two issues regarding the FLDS. The justices will rule on their 2010 ruling against Jeff’s sect, where they dismissed the case, saying the challenge to the State’s takeover of their religious trust was too long. In the ruling they did not necessarily rule against the the FLDS contention that the takeover had violated Constitutional separation between church and state.
The Federal Court ruled that this violation did take place and the time frame of challenge did not matter. We agree with this decision. What remains to be decided is who is correct, the Utah Supreme Court or the Federal Court. In addition, at risk is some $5 million that the State may have to pay to the appointed administrator of the trust. The administrator was state appointed without the consent of those that were part of the trust. He, Bruce Wisan, now wants payment for his services. How he came up with $5 million for his work is beyond me, but is also not the issue.
It will be a shame if the taxpayers have to pay for such a bill. It is a costly lesson of what happens when the power of the State is exercised at the cost of principle in order to satisfy the demands of justice. Whenever power is exercised to control liberty, property or religion is should be tempered with jurisprudence. Many polygamous people have religious trusts. What is to stop the State from inserting itself into anyone’s trust and property rights anytime it does not like the how it is administrated.
There are many victims of Mr. Jeff’s unrighteous dominion, but unfortunately the State in its efforts to help those victims only acerbated the situation and now could possibly be left footing a horrendous bill. We will watch this week with interest.