ACLU asks judge to reverse Kim Davis’ meddling
September 21st, 2015
After being released from jail under orders not to interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses by deputy clerks, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis immediately did just that.
She denied the deputy clerks access to Kentucky marriage licenses and instructed them to issue altered licenses in which Davis had struck out words, filled in blanks inappropriately, and restricted the deputies from acting as deputy clerks and requiring them to only act as a notary public. Having removed the authorization that comes from being issued by deputy clerks, Davis declared the forms “unauthorized”.
A few days ago, Deputy Clerk Brian Mason filed his fortnightly report with Judge Bunning in which he detailed Davis’ behavior. The alteration of the forms was also confirmed in the report of Deputy Clerk Kristy Plank.
Now the ACLU is requesting that Judge Bunning order the Deputy Clerks to issue valid marriage licenses that have not been altered by Kim Davis. They are requesting that they be identical to those licenses issued while Davis was in jail, which do not include Davis’ name, replacing it with the words “Rowan County”.
Specifically, with regard to this Court’s September 3 Order, Plaintiffs request that the Court direct the Rowan County Deputy Clerks to (1) issue marriage licenses in the same form and manner as those that were issued on or before September 8, 2015; (2) disregard any instruction or order from Defendant Kim Davis that would require them to issue any marriage license in a form or manner other than the form and manner of licenses that were issued on or before September 8, 2015; (3) continue to file status reports that address their compliance with the Court’s Orders and detail any attempt by Davis to interfere with their issuance of marriage licenses in the same form or manner as those that were issued on or before September 8, 2015; and (4) re-issue, nunc pro tunc, any marriage licenses that have been issued since September 14, 2015, in the same form or manner as those that were issued on or before September 8, 2015.
Should Davis continue to meddle and seek to block the issuance of valid marriage licenses, the ACLU request that Bunning fine Davis and put the County Clerk’s Office into receivership.
Meanwhile Davis is on the talk circuit wailing about how people called her names just because she decided to impose her personal beliefs on the citizens of Rowan County.
Deputy clerk says Kim Davis “may have interfered”
September 18th, 2015
Judge Bunning has ordered the attorneys for the deputy clerks in Rowan County, Kentucky, to report to him every two weeks as to whether they are in compliance with his order to issue marriage licenses. Richard A. Hughes, the counsel for Deputy Clerk Brian Mason, has reported that Mason is issuing licenses; however, they were altered by County Clerk Kim Davis so as to make them invalid.
Kim Davis came to the office and confiscated all the original forms, and provided a changed form which deletes all mentions of the County, fills in one of the blanks that would otherwise be the County with the Court’s styling, deletes her name, deletes all of the deputy clerk references, and in place of deputy clerk types in the name of Brian Mason, and has him initial rather than sign. There is now a notarization beside his initials in place of where otherwise signatures would be.
I discussed with Mr. Mason in my opinion he had done nothing wrong and is continuing to follow his sworn testimony to the court, however it also appears to this counsel those changes were made in some attempt to circumvent the court’s orders and may have raised to the level of interference against the court’s orders. Mr. Mason is concerned because he is in a difficult position that he continues to issue the licenses per the court’s order, but is issuing licenses which had some remote questionable validity, but now with these changes may in fact have some substantial questions about validity.
Again Mr. Mason’s concern is he does not want to be the party that is issuing invalid marriage licenses and he is trying to follow the court’s mandate as well as his superior ordering him to issue only these changed forms and only with initials and only as notarized, which in the last example I have seen are not even notarized.
Judge Bunning let Kim Davis out of jail with strict instruction not to interfere with the Deputy Clerks in their duty of issuing marriage licenses. She clearly sees her faith as invalidating any obligation to live according to her promises.
Were I the judge, I would inquire with the Kentucky Supreme Court as to whether the licenses are valid. If not, and should Davis refuse to allow the proper issuance of valid licenses, I’d say “back to jail”.
Kim Davis continues shenanigans
September 14th, 2015
Oh boy. It appears that Kim Davis isn’t through with her nastiness or her desire to block equality. Though she stated that she would not interfere with clerks, it now appears that she is altering the marriage licenses so as to purposefully make them invalid. Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden has copies of the new altered format (see above).
Davis is not allowing the clerks to issue licenses as a deputy clerk at all, but instead as a notary public and while a deputy clerk likely has authority to issue licenses, a notary most certainly does not.
This will likely find her back in jail.
Kentucky’s governor says the altered marriage licenses issued in Rowan County from the office of an embattled clerk are considered valid.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Monday that the licenses issued “are going to be recognized as valid in the Commonwealth.”
And that may be the end of it. I am still uncertain as to whether Beshear or anyone else is considering that the licenses are no longer being issued by anyone using their authority as deputy clerk. Perhaps the fact that they are employed by the Clerk’s office is being considered to be adequate, but signing as a notary public seems suspect to me.
Kim Davis capitulates UPDATED
September 14th, 2015
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has tearfully reached the exact position that the County, the Governor, the federal judiciary, and her gay constituents have been demanding of her. Marriage licenses will continue to be issued. (Huffpo)
“I want the whole world to know … If any [deputy clerk] feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice, and I will take no action against them,” she said. “However, any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order.”
Of course no one else is questioning their validity and Davis’ only purpose in doing so is a whiny pretense that her efforts to impose her religious values on the county were not in vain.
UPDATE: new twist: Davis has altered the marriage licenses to remove any reference to deputy clerk. By “unauthorized”, she means “altered”. They likely are invalid.
Kim’s new t-shirt
September 9th, 2015
It’s pretty easy to confuse the Rowan County Circuit Court Clerk and the Rowan County Clerk. One keeps track of criminal and civil filings and the other issues licenses, but most people wouldn’t know the difference.
For Kim Tabor, this hasn’t been a happy confusion. Tabor works for the Circuit Court Clerk and has been on the receiving end of a number of people who called and asked for Kim, thinking that they were reaching the County Clerk.
So what do you do when your name is Kim and you work for the Rowan County Circuit Court Clerk? You do this:
Kim Davis ordered released
September 8th, 2015
U.S. District Judge David Bunning issued an order Tuesday saying Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis shall be released from Carter County jail.
The judge’s order, filed Tuesday in U.S. District, says Davis shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.
Bunning is requiring the clerks to file a status report with him to confirm that they are remaining in compliance. Should Davis interfere with them in any way, she will be sanctioned again.
The Huckabee rally is set to start shortly. It will be interesting to see how Davis/Staver/Huckabee will spin this latest twist. I suspect that we’ll hear about ‘the power of prayer’ and how this is a victory. But it’s difficult to see anything but defeat in this for Kim Davis.
Of course, she may declare that she’ll stop the licenses again and the circus may go on.
Meanwhile, a Rasmussen poll suggests that Davis only has support from about 26% of likely voters.
Davis’ martyrdom act not selling well
September 7th, 2015
Mat Staver and Kim Davis no doubt believe that they have achieved the perfect situation. Kim Davis has been thrown in jail like Paul and Silas for her Christian faith. Homosexuals and liberals are showing themselves to be the tyrants that they are and are engaging in full on war against Christians.
But this narrative isn’t playing as well as they might like.
Anti-gay activists are pointing at certain GOP presidential pretenders as indication of support. And Democratic activists are doing the same to suggest that the Republican Party is comprised entirely of homophobic lunatics. But the reality is something quite else.
Certainly some wild-eyed firebrands like Mike Huckabee have rushed to her defense, planning a rally and fundraising on Davis’ plight. Others such as Cruz, Santorum, and Jindal have also weighed in as being in support of Davis and Rand Paul seems completely confused. But for most, the response is more nuanced.
The GOP candidates have expressed some level of dismay that Davis is in jail along with their general disagreement with the Obergefell ruling. But for many of them, their frustration is in no small part with Davis and her refusal to find a solution.
“She is sworn to uphold the law, and it seems to me that there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and — now that the law is the law of the land — for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is,” Bush told reporters in New Hampshire.
“You have to go with it. The decision’s been made, and that is the law of the land,” the real estate mogul said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I would say the simple answer is let her clerks do it,” he said. “Now from what I understand she’s not letting the clerks do it either. The other simple answer is rather than going through this — because it’s really a very, very sticky situation and terrible situation — 30 miles away they have other places, they have many other places where you get licensed. And you have them actually quite nearby, that’s another alternative.”
“And, while I disagree with this court’s decision, their actions are clear,” Fiorina said. “And so I think in this particular case, this woman now needs to make a decision of conscience — is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government in which case she needs to execute the government’s will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to sever her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties will be paramount over her duties as a government employee?”
Even though Davis personally opposes same-sex marriage, she’s a government employee, Kasich told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.
“She’s not running a church. I wouldn’t force this on a church, but in terms of her responsibility, I think she has to comply,” said Kasich, Ohio governor and a GOP presidential candidate. He doesn’t think she should sit in jail, he said, but “I think she should follow the law.”
As a public official, comply with the law or resign.
“The rule of law is the rule of law. We are a rule of law nation.
“I appreciate her conviction, I support traditional marriage, but she’s accepted a job in which she has to apply the law to everyone.”
I think that there are several reasons why Davis’ jailing isn’t getting the expected universal condemnation from Republicans and conservatives.
First is Davis herself. Due to her faith, she dresses plainly and avoids makeup. And while on some, that can come across as sweet-faced and innocent, Davis’ simply looks dowdy. Davis also expresses her sense of entitlement and petty authority in her expressions, giving the impression of sourness and anger. She is not nearly so sympathetic a character as we have previously seen in bakers, photographers, and venue suppliers.
Running a close second is her counsel. They are accustomed to making outlandish and absurd statements to those who share their extreme views and who willingly believe their wild assertions. But when that is trotted out in front of the general public, it sounds like the ranting of lunatics. Insisting that the licenses being issued are void and worthless (though Kentucky law allows for deputy clerk authorization) or declaring that the Supreme Court doesn’t have constitutional authority to rule on issues relating to constitutional interpretation makes Mat Staver appear, as a Fox News panel put it, “ridiculously stupid”.
Also contributing to the lack of respect for Davis may be a current dissatisfaction with petty bureaucrats and never ending regulation. Irrespective of whether one thinks that marriage should be equal, this story seems more indicative of governmental meddling than it does of individual victimhood. It’s easy to pity a baker who is being forced by faceless administrators to bake a cake, but Davis is on the other side of that equation, refusing to engage with her customers and with reporters and autocratically forbidding her staff from serving the public.
We should also consider that Americans are tired of the debate. The question of the legality of same-sex marriage had placed strain on families and friendships and even on personal beliefs as ancient moral codes warred with genuine affection for gay people. And when the Supreme Court found for gay marriage, most of those who were not favorable of that decision were, nevertheless, glad that there had finally been a decision and they could move on. By bringing up again what was believed to be finalized, Davis irritated those who were becoming comfortable with the new reality.
Finally, this situation is not one which could not have found a solution. Davis was given the opportunity to find a win-win by allowing her deputies to issue marriage licenses. This would have allowed everyone to feel good about Davis standing for her beliefs but not standing in the way of others. And when she rejected that offer demanding that she be allowed to block marriage licenses in the county for everyone based solely on her personal beliefs, she was the one who seemed unfair and unkind.
Certainly the gadflies and the extremists and the professionally butthurt will beat this horse for long after it has breathed its last whinney. But the public, including much of the right of center, has not rallied around her nor found in Kim Davis a cause.
Marriage comes to Rowan County, Kentucky
September 4th, 2015
James Yates and William Smith Jr. paid $35.50 and filled out paperwork early Friday to become the first couple to get a marriage license in Rowan County since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage June 26. Another couple soon followed.
With Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in jail on civil contempt charges for defying a judge’s order to resume issuing licenses, deputy clerk Brian Mason ended the office’s two-month license ban by politely serving Yates and Smith on Friday, even congratulating them and shaking their hands afterward.
As for Kim Davis, she sits in jail. Where she will remain, I suppose, until she promises not to interfere in the issuance of marriage licenses by her staff.
After today the cameras will leave. Public services are now being issued in a manner that is equal under the law and daily life will resume in Rowan County.
Mike Huckabee and Brian Brown and others of their ilk will continue to rally and to point and scream, “they’re persecuting Christians” and some small segment of society will stay all worked up over this for a while. But the public has moved on and the professionally butthurt will soon find another ‘victim’ to champion.
And eventually Kim Davis will tire of her cell and decide that since she can’t prohibit gay people from marrying, she might as well stop being a martyr. Once the spotlight is off, jail isn’t much fun. And the small blip in the local press indicating some ‘compromise’ of some sort and Kim’s release will be the last of this story.
Judge to clerk’s office: issue licenses or join Davis in jail
September 3rd, 2015
The circus isn’t over
The judge also told all five of the clerk’s deputies, including her son, Nathan Davis, that they are free to issue licenses to all applicants while Davis is held in contempt, but would also face fines or jail if they refuse to comply. He told them to meet with lawyers briefly and consider their fates before returning to his courtroom later Thursday to reveal their decisions.
It appears that five of the six deputies said they are fine with issuing marriage licenses.
After deputies indicated willingness to issue licenses, Judge Bunning called Davis back to court. She refused, but spoke through her counsel.
She refused to allow her deputies to perform their duties according to their own values and religious beliefs. Only Davis’ religious freedom matters, not that of her deputies.
About that liberal Judge who is persecuting poor Kim Davis
September 2nd, 2015
Kim Davis is finding that her personal beliefs make it physically impossible for her to perform the task of issuing marriage licenses. And she’s going to court tomorrow to tell Federal Judge David Bunning so.
What she might not be considering is that Judge Bunning also has strong personal beliefs and has already determined whether an individual can find within themself the ability to do things with which they may not fully agree.
Cininatti.com has a profile on Judge Bunning.
David Bunning is the youngest of nine children of Hall-of-Fame pitcher and former [uber-conservative, anti-gay, GOP] U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning and his wife, Mary Bunning. He grew up in Fort Thomas and was nominated by President George W. Bush for federal judge for the eastern district of Kentucky in 2001. The Senate confirmed the nomination in 2002.
Bunning Sr. was narrowly reelected in 2004 by attaching his campaign to Kentucky’s anti-gay marriage amendment. If any family is vested in opposition to same-sex marriage, it is the Bunning family.
But as for Judge Bunning,
“David is an honest person,” his mother Mary Bunning said. “He doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court but has to obey the law.”
Davis contempt defense: it’s impossible to comply
September 2nd, 2015
Kim Davis simply cannot comply with the orders of Federal Judge Bunning’s order to do her job. She just isn’t physically able to do so. It’s impossible, you see. (Response in Opposition)
Davis should not be held in contempt because she “is presently unable to comply with the court’s order” enjoining her to authorize SSM licenses bearing her name. See Elec. Workers Pension Trust Fund of Local Union #58 v. Gary’s Elec. Serv. Co., 340 F.3d 373, 379 (6th Cir. 2003) (emphasis in original); see also U.S. v. Rylander, 460 U.S. 752, 757 (1983) (“[w]here compliance is impossible, neither the moving party nor the court has any reason to proceed with the civil contempt action.”); Tate v. Frey, 673 F. Supp. 880, 883 (W.D. Ky. 1987) (“The court’s power to impose coercive civil contempt is limited by an individual’s ability to comply with the court’s coercive order. A party may defend against a contempt by showing that his compliance is factually impossible.”) (internal citation omitted). To prove the impossibility defense to contempt, a person “must show categorically and in detail why he or she is unable to comply with the court’s order.” Elec. Workers, 340 F.3d at 379 (citation omitted).
Impossible? How distressing! But what makes it impossible for Davis to comply with the court’s ruling?
Have all the pens run out of ink? Is there a shortage of documents? Did Kim Davis’ arms fall off?
No. Not that kind of “impossible”.
Davis and her legal team may have a different definition of “impossible” than do you, I, Judge Banning and all other rational people. By “impossible”, Davis means “it irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience”.
She goes on to list several other reasons why she shouldn’t be held in contempt. I don’t find them very convincing. Maybe that’s because she started with an absurdity.
Why Kim Davis won’t resign
September 1st, 2015
Rowan County has about 24,000 residents in about 8,300 households. The median income per household (a blend of single-earner and double-earner) is $35,000. The median income for female workers is around $20,000. The average price of houses sold recently in Rowan County is $95,000.
Kim Davis makes almost $80,000.
Davis issues a statement
September 1st, 2015
Here is Kim Davis’ explanation as to why she is entitled to thwart the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky.
I have worked in the Rowan County Clerk’s office for 27 years as a Deputy Clerk and was honored to be elected as the Clerk in November 2014, and took office in January 2015. I love my job and the people of Rowan County. I have never lived any place other than Rowan County. Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well. This year we are on track to generate a surplus for the county of 1.5 million dollars.
In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.
I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word. It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Our history is filled with accommodations for people’s religious freedom and conscience. I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned – that conscience and religious freedom would be protected. That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. I have received death threats from people who do not know me. I harbor nothing against them. I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.
You see, she has the religious liberty to cause the County to deny civil rights to gay couples. That’s all she’s asking. Why are you so unaccomodating?
After all, our Founders intended that civil servants use their own religion to deny services to those of other beliefs. That’s what the Second Amendment is all about: Congress cannot establish religion; that’s the role of County Clerks.
Kim Davis defies rule of law
September 1st, 2015
It appears that at some point over the night, the Creator of the Universe took a few minutes for a very special meeting with Kim Davis, the Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky. And at that meeting God deputized Davis as Deputy Deity and gave her special duties and powers, among which is the right to determine whose marriage is recognized by the state of Kentucky.
Or so Davis seems to believe. Because this morning when two same-sex couples turned up to get their marriage licenses, they were again turned away. (WaPo)
When Davis emerged, she declared that she was not issuing any licenses.
“Under whose authority?” she was asked.
“Under God’s authority,” she said.
Now, I tend to question the faith of those who jump to claim the authority of God. Surely if you believe that an omnipotent deity sees all you do, you’d hesitate a bit before stepping into His shoes and using His authority to push your will on His other children. The consequences of being wrong are so great.
So too are the consequences of defying a federal judge. (NBC)
Couples who have sued the clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, quickly asked a federal judge to hold her in contempt. They sought a fine but not jail time.
The contempt request was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky on behalf of couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex, who sued Davis.
“Since Defendant Davis continues to collect compensation from the Commonwealth for duties she fails to perform,” lawyers wrote, “plaintiffs urge the Court to impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous to compel Davis’ immediate compliance without further delay.”
A hearing on the contempt case is set for Thursday. I think that Davis will discover there that “My God trumps your legal authority” is a position that judges view askance.
And I think that the request for fines and not jail is a smart one. The imagery of Davis being dragged to jail would feed her martyrdom narrative while levying her salary may serve to incentivize her just as well.
Decision point for Kim Davis
August 31st, 2015
Today the US Supreme Court denied Davis’ request for a stay on Judge Bunning’s ruling. Also today, the most liberal interpretation of Bunning’s stay runs out. Tomorrow Davis will have to decide whether to comply with the orders of the Federal judge or whether she will choose to be in contempt of court. (wkyt.com)
Mat Staver, a lawyer representing Davis, told the Associated Press “she’s going to have to think and pray about her decision overnight.”
Davis’ decision is complicated by a growing pressure on her from several sides. A couple who were denied a licence have requested Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins to prosecute Davis for official misconduct. Watkins referred the issue to Attorney General Jack Conway. (courier-journal.com)
The Kentucky attorney general is mulling whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether she violated the state official misconduct statute when her office refused to issue a license to a Rowan County gay couple.
Official misconduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 365 days in jail.
A public servant is guilty of it when, “with intent to deprive another person of a benefit,” he or she refrains “from performing a duty imposed upon by law or clearly inherent in the nature” of his office or “violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation” relating to it.
The couple has also filed a lawsuit against Davis. And it does not appear that she has the support of the Rowan County Government.
Amidst all of this, Davis continues to misstate her intent. She claims that she does not wish to be forced to issue marriage licenses that contravene her religious beliefs.
That is inaccurate. The task is one easily passed to an assistant.
In truth, Davis wishes to prohibit same-sex couples from receiving marriage licenses in Rowan County Kentucky, in effect forcing the citizens of the county to live how she deems appropriate. She is a petty bureaucrat heady on her own limited authority and determined to use her dollop of power to the greatest extent.