Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act - 1862
The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was signed into law on July 8, 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. Sponsored by Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, the act banned plural marriage and limited church and non-profit ownership in any territory of the United States to $50,000. The act targeted the Mormon church ownership in the Utah territory. The measure had no funds allocated for enforcement, and President Lincoln chose to leave the Mormons alone.
(Brigham Young was a criminal and Temple Square property should have been escheated to the United States)
COPY OF 1862 MORRILL ACT
Chapter CXXVI An Act to punish and prevent the Practice of Polygamy in the Territories of the United States and other Places, and disapproving and annulling certain Acts of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That every person having a husband or wife living, who shall marry any other person, whether married or single, in a Terrority of the United States, or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, shall, except in the cases specified in the proviso to this section, be adjudged guilty of bigamy, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, and by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years: Provided, nevertheless, That this section shall not extend to any person by reason of any former marriage whose husband or wife by such marriage shall have been absent for five successive years without being known to such person within that time to be living; nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which shall have been dissolved by the decree of a competent court; nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which shall have been annulled or pronounced void by the sentence or decree of a competent court on the ground of the nullity of the marriage contract.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the following ordinance of the provisional government of the State of Deseret, so called, namely: An ordinance incorporating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, passed February eight, in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-one, and adopted, reenacted, and made valid by the governor and legislative assembly of the Territory of Utah by an act passed January nineteen, in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-five, entitled An act in relation to the compilation and revision of the laws and resolutions in force in Utah Territory, their publication, and distribution, and all other acts and parts of acts heretofore passed by the said legislative assembly of the Territory of Utah, which establish, support, maintain, shield, or countenance polygamy, be, and the same hereby are, disapproved and annulled: Provided, That this act shall be so limited and construed as not to affect or interfere with the right of property legally acquired under the ordinance heretofore mentioned, nor with the right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience, but only to annul all acts and laws which establish, maintain, protect, or countenance the practice of polygamy, evasively called spiritual marriage, however disguised by legal or ecclesiastical solemnities, sacraments, ceremonies, consecrations, or other contrivances.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any corporation or association for religious or charitable purposes to acquire or hold real estate in any Territory of the United States during the existence of the territorial government of greater value than fifty thousand dollars; and all real estate acquired or held by any such corporation or association contrary to the provisions of this act shall be forfeited and escheat to the United States: Provided, That existing vested rights in real estate not be impaired by the provisions of this section.
APPROVED, July 1, 1862
(Webmaster Note: Senator Harry Reid would have made a great 19th century anti-Mormon)
Reid presents bill aimed at polygamy
Senate hearing on measure is today
By STEVE TETREAULT
STEPHENS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Jul. 24, 2008
ON THE WEB:
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at 7 a.m. today:
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid on Wednesday introduced a bill in Congress to crack down on polygamous groups, charging that crime is organized and "rampant" within the communities.
Reid's first stop today to promote the bill will be at a hearing that he largely organized with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The measure calls for formation of a federal task force to combat "the unique set of crimes committed by polygamist organizations."
It also would make available $2 million in federal grants for local authorities to investigate and prosecute crimes linked to polygamy. Another $12 million over five years would be offered to organizations that provide protection and services to family members seeking to escape plural marriages.
Former members of polygamous groups have charged domestic and sexual abuse is common through forced marriages and unions involving underage girls, along with other crimes such as welfare fraud, tax evasion, extortion and kidnapping.
Reid, the Senate majority leader from Nevada, has equated activities of polygamist groups with organized crime and has been pressing for federal racketeering investigations of their activities.
The Senate hearing is expected to focus on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a breakaway Mormon sect whose adherents believe plural marriage is ordained by God. The mainstream Mormon church renounced polygamy in 1904.
FLDS membership is based in communities on the border of Utah and Arizona, while members also live in Nevada and other Western states. Its membership is estimated to be between 6,000 and 10,000.
State and local authorities have pursued criminal allegations against FLDS leaders and members, while Reid has argued a stronger federal hand is necessary.
FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was convicted in Utah last year of two counts of being an accomplice to rape, for his role in arranging a 2002 marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin.
Jeffs faces similar charges in Arizona and this week was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on sexual assault charges.
"We are taking aim at the blatant and systemic crime that is rampant within these polygamist groups," Reid said in a statement accompanying his bill.
Reid, one of 16 Mormons serving in Congress, did not consult with the church in forming his bill, according to his spokesman Jon Summers.
The Mormon church has not taken a position on the bill, spokeswoman Kim Farah said. In an e-mail, she said "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has repeatedly expressed concern about the illegal practice of polygamy and persistent reports of the possible emotional and physical abuse of women and children."
Today's hearing is entitled "Crimes Associated with Polygamy: The Need for a Coordinated State and Federal Response."
Chief federal prosecutors from Nevada and Utah are scheduled to testify along with attorneys general from Arizona and Texas. Also listed to testify are former FLDS member Carolyn Jessup, and Stephen Singular, who has written about the FLDS and Jeffs.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that FLDS spokesman Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City attorney, sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a letter protesting that no members of the group were invited to testify.
"History is replete with examples of misinformation becoming the foundation of persecution and hysteria, leading in turn to real harm to real people," Parker wrote, according to the newspaper.
Parker could not be reached by telephone message or e-mail on Wednesday.
Asked why there were no FLDS witnesses invited, Summers said the committee did not need to hear from them.
"This is not a trial," Summers said. "This is a hearing about ways to increase enforcement against crimes committed by these groups. Are they going to come in and say this is the best way to bust us?"
Bill Number: S. 3313 (IS)
Bill Title: Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008 (Introduced in Senate)
Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry View all legislation sponsored by this member.
Latest Major Action: 2008/07/23 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Notes: There are no notes for this Bill
S 3313 IS
To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
July 23, 2008
Mr. REID introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Despite the fact that polygamy has been illegal in the United States for over 100 years, the practice of polygamy involving underage marriages is growing. Sizable polygamist communities exist in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and are expanding into other States.
(2) Polygamist communities are typically controlled by organizations that engage in widespread and systematic violations of State laws and the laws of the United States in order to enrich their leaders and maintain control over their members.
(3) The crimes perpetrated by these organizations include child abuse, domestic violence, welfare fraud, tax evasion, public corruption, witness tampering, and transporting victims across State lines.
(4) Due to the systematic and sophisticated nature of these crimes, State and local law enforcement agencies would benefit from the assistance of the Federal Government as they investigate and prosecute these organizations and their leaders for violations of State law. In addition, violations of Federal law associated with polygamy should be investigated and prosecuted directly by Federal authorities.
(5) The work of State and Federal law enforcement agencies to combat crimes by polygamist organizations would benefit from enhanced collaboration and information-sharing among such agencies.
(6) The establishment of a task force within the Department of Justice to coordinate Federal efforts and collaborate with State agencies would aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activities of polygamist organizations in both Federal and State courts.
(7) Polygamist organizations isolate, control, manipulate, and threaten victims with retribution should they ever abandon the organization. Individuals who choose to testify against polygamist organizations in Federal or State court have unique needs, including social services and witness protection support, that warrant Federal assistance.
SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL POLYGAMY TASK FORCE.
(a) Establishment- There is established within the Department of Justice a Federal Polygamy Task Force, which shall consist of the Deputy Attorney General, the United States attorneys from affected Federal judicial districts, representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and any officer of the Federal Government whom the Deputy Attorney General considers necessary to strengthen Federal law enforcement activities and provide State and local law enforcement officials the assistance they need to address the illegal activity of one or more polygamist organizations.
(b) Purposes- The Federal Polygamy Task Force established under subsection (a) shall--
(1) formulate effective responses to the unique set of crimes committed by polygamist organizations;
(2) establish partnerships with State and local law enforcement agencies to share relevant information and strengthen State and Federal efforts to combat crimes perpetrated by polygamist organizations;
(3) assist States by providing strategies and support for the protection of witnesses;
(4) track the criminal behavior of polygamist organizations that cross State and international borders; and
(5) ensure that local officials charged with protecting the public are not corrupted because of financial, family, or membership ties to a polygamist organization.
SEC. 4. POLYGAMY VICTIM ASSISTANCE DISCRETIONARY GRANTS.
The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 1404E the following:
`SEC. 1404F. ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF POLYGAMY.
`(a) In General- The Director may make grants as provided in section 1404(c)(1)(A) to State, tribal, and local prosecutors' offices, law enforcement agencies, courts, jails, and correctional institutions, and to qualified public and private entities, to develop, establish, and maintain programs for the enforcement of rights and provision of social services (including witness protection, housing, education, vocational training, mental health services, child care, and medical treatment) for an individual who is exploited or otherwise victimized by practitioners of polygamy.
`(b) Authorization of Appropriations- In addition to funds made available under section 1402(d), there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section--
`(1) $2,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and
`(2) $2,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.
`(c) False Claims Act- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, amounts collected pursuant to sections 3729 through 3731 of title 31, United States Code (commonly known as the `False Claims Act'), may be used for grants under this section, subject to appropriation.'.
SEC. 5. POLYGAMY INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION ASSISTANCE DISCRETIONARY GRANTS.
Section 506(a) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3756(a)) is amended--
(1) in paragraph (1), by striking `and' at the end;
(2) in paragraph (2), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
`(3) $2,000,000, to be granted by the Attorney General to States and units of local government to investigate and prosecute polygamist organizations that violate Federal, State, or local laws.'.
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