An interesting detail from BuzzFeed: Lawyers for the gay couples who want her to issue the licenses asked the court to fine her, not send her to jail. Since when do gay-rights supporters ask for leniency for a Christian who’s defying them on gay marriage? Since, I think, this case started picking up national media attention. They don’t want to make a martyr out of Davis. Locking her up does that in a visible way that hitting her in the wallet doesn’t.
The judge ordered her locked up anyway. For a reason:
Judge Bunning did not believe it made sense to fine Davis because he did not believe it would compel her to act, cited outside funding.
— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) September 3, 2015
The court assumed, not unreasonably, that sympathizers would shower her with cash to cover the fine, which means there’d be no real pressure on her to comply with the order to begin issuing licenses. The only way to pressure her was jail.
David told Todd Starnes of Fox News that she was prepared for that if it came to it:
“I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail, I sure am,” Mrs. Davis told me in an exclusive interview. “This has never been a gay or lesbian issue for me. This is about upholding the word of God.”
“This is a heaven or hell issue for me and for every other Christian that believes,” she said. “This is a fight worth fighting.”…
“I would have to either make a decision to stand or I would have to buckle down and leave,” she said, pondering her choices. “And if I left, resigned or chose to retire, I would have no voice for God’s word.
That’s the first time I’ve heard a religious believer suggest that they wouldn’t have a voice for God without their public office, but okay. Meanwhile, Kentucky needs to figure out what to do about marriage licenses while she’s in jail. She can’t be fired; she’s an elected official. She could be impeached by the state legislature, but good luck getting politicians to hold a big public pageant in a red state to boot a devout Christian from office for resisting gay marriage as a matter of conscience. Another possibility is changing the law so that some other county official besides the clerk can issue marriage licenses, but the state legislature’s not in session right now and the governor, Democrat Steve Beshear, is nervous about calling a special session to deal with this. Here’s a late-breaking possibility:
ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) – Judge: Deputy clerks who don't issue marriage licenses could also receive fines or jail.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 3, 2015
Could a federal judge authorize deputy clerks of the state to issue marriage licenses against the clerk’s orders? If not, could the governor issue an order deputizing some county official (or even sending his own envoy to the county) to issue licenses without Davis’s approval? Would Beshear even be willing to do that given how hot this matter might get?
Here’s Huckabee this morning on MSNBC continuing to argue, incorrectly, that state officials don’t need to follow a Supreme Court ruling unless and until it’s been ratified by the state legislature in the form of a statute. Two exit questions for you while we wait for further news on the deputy clerks. One: A commenter in Headlines remarked at the news of Davis being held in contempt, “They really are jailing Christians in this country OMG.” Would the same logic apply if Davis was a devout Catholic and she went to jail for contempt after refusing to issue marriage licenses to straight couples where one of the petitioners had been married before? When, if ever, should a religious public official *not* be allowed to ignore their duties if it conflicts with their belief? Two: Will the left, which is applauding the court for jailing Davis, agree that local officials who are dragging their feet on complying with SCOTUS’s rulings about gun rights should also be jailed for contempt, or is this an “only the people we disagree with should comply with the law” sort of thing?
Update: Huckabee reacts:
Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about the criminalization of Christianity in this country. We must defend #ReligiousLiberty!
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) September 3, 2015
If a Muslim clerk somewhere decides to stop issuing licenses too, is that the criminalization of Islam?