Five of six deputies in the office of a Kentucky county clerk taken into custody Thursday for her refusal to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court allowed gays to wed say they will process the paperwork starting Friday.
But Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, whom U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning found in contempt of court, said through her lawyers that she will not authorize any of her employees to issue licenses in her absence. The judge placed her in the custody of U.S. marshals and had her taken to Carter County jail…
But Bunning said couples will have to decide whether to take that risk on their own. He indicated that he would lift the contempt charge against the defiant county clerk if deputies began issuing marriage licenses but said he was reluctant to release Kim Davis too quickly because of the possibility that she would stop the process and again try to go through the courts in a sort of ping-pong match.
Allowing Kim Davis, who previously has said she is an Apostolic Christian, to defy a court order could create a ripple effect among other county clerks, Bunning said. Two other clerks in the state also had stopped issuing marriage licenses but have not had lawsuits filed against them.
Bill Sharp, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said his clients plan to seek marriage licenses in Rowan County on Friday.
“We think today’s ruling reflected, correctly, that Ms. Davis has been in contempt of court,” Sharp told reporters after court adjourned. “Regrettably, she chose to remain in custody rather than accept the suggestion that we proposed that she simply agree not to interfere with her employees’ willingness to issue marriage licenses to our clients and others who are legally entitled to receive them.
“This case and today’s ruling represents just as all the other rulings in the case have thus far, the fact that religious liberty is not a sword with which government, through its employees, may impose particular religious views on others, nor may it use religious liberty as a justification to withhold essential government services from the public.”…
“Kim Davis had two opportunities to comply with the law, and she chose not to comply with the law,” Landenwich told reporters, adding that Davis “holds the keys to her jail cell.” “For every other citizen in this country, when you choose to break the law there are consequences and there are consequences for government officials. She is not above the law.”
Former Arkansas Governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee today visited by phone with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, a Democrat, who is under fire from the left for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses in Kentucky. After their call, Gov. Huckabee issued the following statement:…
“The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law. They only made a ruling on a law. Congress makes the laws. Because Congress has made no law allowing for same sex marriage, Kim does not have the Constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples.
“Kim is a person of great conviction. When people of conviction fight for what’s right they often pay a price, but if they don’t and we surrender, we will pay a far greater price for bowing to the false God of judicial supremacy. Government is not God. No man – and certainly no unelected lawyer – has the right to redefine the laws of nature or of nature’s God. Five unelected lawyers have abused their power by ruling in favor of a national right to same-sex marriage with no legal precedent and with nothing in our Constitution to back it up. They have violated American’s most fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution – religious liberty.
“I stand with Kim Davis and every American of faith under attack by Washington elites who have nothing but disdain for us, our faith and the Constitution.”
Some people will call this ruling a triumph for the rule of law, a matter of harsh but necessary justice. It is no such thing. As I wrote in a piece earlier this week, the rule of law requires both lawful enactment and lawful enforcement. Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges is nothing more and nothing less than the establishment of Justice Kennedy’s world view as a new state religion — a religion with teeth…
In my initial piece about Davis, I described the unfolding drama as a case of competing revolutions — with Kim Davis defying Justice Kennedy’s revolutionary act with a revolutionary act of her own. We knew from the beginning which revolutionary held more power, and we also know that the worst revolutionaries show no mercy to dissenters. There were many options short of imprisonment for Davis (how many leftist legislators are in jail for lawless “sanctuary city” policies that actually cost lives?), but the court was apparently in no mood for moderation. So off she goes to prison. Judge Bunning’s decision is a means of control It is a means of maintaining order. It is the selective application of law to advance a particular radical ideology. But spare me any talk of justice. There is no justice today in Judge Bunning’s court.
But other contenders called for compromise, suggesting that there might be some way to resolve the tension between Davis’ religious beliefs and the gay couples seeking marriage licenses.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters that “the smart thing to do would be to move her to another job,” while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told the New York Times before Davis was jailed that “there should be a way to protect the religious freedom” of court clerks.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina were the only two candidates to say that she was in the wrong, although they too said they respected where she was coming from.
“The rule of law is the rule of law. That’s what we are. We are a rule of law nation, and I appreciate her conviction. I support traditional marriage, but she’s accepted a job where she has to apply the law to everyone. And that’s her choice,” Graham told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday.
What we have here is a quixotic local bureaucrat from a sparsely-populated county in the Appalachian foothills who has been rebuked by every authority she has come up against and whose cause has been championed only by the most reflexive revanchists in social conservatism (although jailing her is expanding her base of sympathy). In other words, the media would have us believe, we have a Major Constitutional Crisis…
This is the media equivalent of tossing a grenade to shoo a fly. Davis’s mainstream support is thin and qualified. She has lost in the courts, and was always going to. The media pretense is that this is a test case, but the fact pattern is so incredibly weak for Davis that it’s more like a show trial meant to demonstrate what happens to marriage dissenters…
But the villains LGBT advocates identified have continued to shrink in number and stature as the movement’s legal and cultural gains are being consolidated. That a Podunk county clerk is the best monster-du-jour they can scrounge up should be proof enough that the baddies bench is running a little thin. But Davis’s relative insignificance is exactly why she must be so thoroughly eviscerated. No one must feel themselves to be safely beyond the reach of the new orthodoxy.
Davis’s arrest was met with cheers by same-sex marriage advocates who for some reason did not demand imprisonment of officials who lawlessly issued gay marriage licenses in clear contravention of state and federal laws. Take, for example, Democrat Gavin Newsom, who is currently the California lieutenant governor. Back in 2004, when gay marriage was banned under California state law, Newsom openly defied the law and used his power as the mayor of San Francisco to force taxpayer-funded government clerks to issue gay marriage licenses…
And don’t you dare look for evidence of high-minded progressives demanding prison sentences for the Washington, D.C. bureaucrats who openly defied federal court orders to issue concealed carry permits in the nation’s capital. Nope. Instead of enforcing the law as handed down in multiple Supreme Court cases, D.C. officials kept manufacturing new reasons to justify their refusal to comply with federal gun laws.
Don’t even get me started on federal laws regarding drug possession. You won’t find progressives calling for the prosecution of scores of Colorado officials in open defiance of federal drug bans, or calling for the heads of federal officials who refuse to enforce federal drug laws in Colorado. No, those federal laws are icky. Sure, they’re indisputably the law of the land. And sure, officials have a duty to equally apply and enforce standing law, but icky laws are different. Only non-icky laws need to be enforced.
Perhaps natural marriage advocates should abandon their religious liberty arguments and instead declare whole cities to be marriage sanctuaries. That strategy has worked splendidly for open borders advocates. Who cares what the federal law requires when it comes to illegal immigration?
If flagrant law-breaking is the way to fight overreach, count me out of the insurrectionary crew.
Until such time as the Constitution is amended, the Court’s attitude changes, or the republic falls to revolution, Obergefell will remain on an equal legal footing with the other precedents that make up our contemporary legal oeuvre. Weak as its reasoning is, there is no such thing as an “almost ruling.” In practice, a 5–4 decision has the same effect as a unanimous one; structurally, an iffy justification is as potent as the most solid of rationales. However much a state employee might disdain a particular judgment, it simply cannot do to have him translating that disapproval into professional action. If he wishes to privately protest a given ruling — or to refuse to abide by its consequences — that is his inalienable right. “Take what you want,” the old proverb holds, “but pay for it.” He cannot, however, credibly work for the government while doing so — or, at least, he cannot expect to be spared the consequences if he insists upon remaining in power. The rule of law is just that: a rule. There is no such thing as a selective revolution…
Which is to say that Davis and her sponsors are ultimately fighting the wrong fight. A quick look over her own words reveals that she is not in fact presenting a withering argument against Obergefell; that she is not in fact attacking the concept of judicial supremacy; and that she is not in fact attempting to find a means by which Christians can co-exist with the recent changes in the law. Rather, she is unabashedly setting herself outside the law, and justifying it on entirely self-interested grounds. I comprehend my colleague’s frustration here — this is indeed the direct product of an insidious judicial usurpation — but I cannot help but feel that he is endorsing the wrong course. For my money, Davis’s protest would be far more effective were she to resign gracefully, and, having made clear her reasons for doing so, take up a new role as a champion for limited reform.
The legal enshrinement of homosexual marriage is not slavery or its moral equivalent, nor is it Jim Crow, nor is it abortion, the definitive moral issue of our time. And a society that is to have the rule of law cannot abide very many revolutions in miniature, especially those conducted by the people we still describe, with almost-straight faces, as public servants. As much as one might admire Davis’s conviction, David L. Bunning of the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky is right to put her in jail.
But maintaining that rule of law is a broader imperative, and Davis’s transgressions are trivial next to the entrenched criminality of the government that Judge Bunning serves: The Internal Revenue Service under the Obama administration was converted into a crime syndicate; Hillary Rodham Clinton is a rolling crime wave; the Justice Department is an enabler and protector of felons in high places; our law-enforcement agencies have been made into instruments of political intimidation, as in the matter of the ATF’s persecution of Jay Dobyns. There are many honorable men in the federal government, but there are no honorable federal officials, because one cannot honorably serve a dishonorable government. We may call Judge Bunning “His Honor,” but that is purely vestigial.
“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly,” Thoreau reasoned, “the true place for a just man is also a prison.” That we breathe the same free air as Lois Lerner, Eric Holder, and Hillary Rodham Clinton is a testament against us, that we may have a finer understanding of the distinctions necessary to republican self-government but lack the conviction necessary to act on it.
— Gazette-Mail (@wvgazettemail) September 3, 2015