less than 1 minute read

Reynolds v. United States

Significance, Congress Strengthens The Anti-bigamy Law, The Supreme Court Destroys The Mormons' Hopes


George Reynolds


United States

Petitioner's Claim

The Morrill Act, which made practice of polygamy a crime, violated his First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioner

George W. Biddle and Ben Sheeks

Chief Lawyers for Respondent

Charles Devens, U.S. Attorney General, and Samuel F. Phillips, U.S. Solicitor General

Justices for the Court

Joseph P. Bradley, Nathan Clifford, Stephen Johnson Field, John Marshall Harlan I, Ward Hunt, Samuel Freeman Miller, William Strong, Noah Haynes Swayne, Morrison Remick Waite (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

5 May 1879


Polygamy was not protected by freedom of religion.

Related Cases

  • Potter v. Murray City, 760 F.2d 1065 (10th Cir. 1985).
  • Employment Division v. Smith, 485 U.S. 660 (1988).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882