The Utah Supreme Court has denied a defense request for summary judgment in a case involving a southwestern Utah couple who are seeking to adopt six children.

On Dec. 5, 5th District Judge Dean Conder rejected a petition by Vaughn and Sharane Fischer of Hildale, who had sought to adopt the children of Vaughn Fischer's deceased wife, Brenda Johanson Thornton.A month later, the couple appealed to the Supreme Court.

Tim Anderson, attorney for Thornton's sisters and father, said Tuesday that denial of the motion clears the way for arguments before the high court.

Anderson said the Utah Court of Appeals last week certified the case to be heard before the Supreme Court because it would likely end up there anyway. He said the move, which required signatures from four of the five judges on the Court of Appeals, has allowed the case to skip one level in the court system.

Steve Snow, attorney for the Fischers, argued in his Supreme Court brief that a previous Utah case set a precedent for this case. He said the previous case suggested that the practice of polygamy does not disqualify parents from adopting children.

Patricia and Janet Johanson, sisters of Thornton, and their father, Calvin, maintain this case is different because there were no natural parents involved.

The judge allowed Fischer and his two wives to retain custody of the children until the case is resolved. They range in age from 5 to 19.