Davis contempt defense: it’s impossible to comply

Timothy Kincaid

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.


September 2nd, 2015

This just annoys me on so many levels.

I have a physical disability. I use a manual wheelchair for mobility. I have never, EVER applied for any job unless I knew for certain I was 100% able to do ALL of the duties the job required.

If, at some point, after being hired, my condition deteriorated making it impossible for me to fulfill some of the job duties I had previously been able to fulfill, I would FIND ANOTHER JOB.

Ms. Davis was elected in good faith by the citizenry to perform certain job duties, one of those being issuing legal marriage licenses. If, for whatever reason, she can no longer perform any or all of those duties, SHE NEEDS TO LEAVE and allow someone who IS able to perform those duties take her place.

In what alternate universe does anyone think they should be able to remain employed and continue getting paid when they cannot perform the duties of the job they were hired (or elected) to perform?


September 2nd, 2015

Beautiful, TwirlyGirly. Just perfect. Nice article, as well, Tim.


September 3rd, 2015

I feel sorry for her that her job description changed in a fundamental (to her) way after she started that job. Still, she doesn’t have two legs to stand on legally, as evidenced by her being literally the only person in the country in this position. What a silly song and dance her lawyers have to go through, scrounging around for shreds of arguments to defend her. Waste of time; we all know how it ends, more or less.


September 3rd, 2015

Help – I clicked onto the link “response in opposition” but it’s all gibberish to me. I just barely passed high school. could someone please explain it as if talking to a 6 year old – because that’s basically the capacity I have to understand this legal document. Is it a document stating why Davis should not be held accountable and not held in contempt? if that is so – then wouldn’t set precedent that anybody can claim anything under religious beliefs?

Ben in oakland

September 3rd, 2015

Eddie, anyone can claim anything under the rubric of religious beliefs.

I am in Oslo at the moment. This is from my travelogue that I always send to friends after trips. I just wrote it five minutes ago.

Also interesting, at least to the mythologically minded, is a small detail in the carving depicting Yggsrasil, the Tree of the World. There is an eagle that dwells in the top of this Tree, and a dragon that eternally gnaws at its roots, for some dragonish reason. But there is also a Magic Squirrel, who has some sort of a job as well. I can understand the highly symbolic Tree of the World, in a culture in a land of great forests full of great trees. I can even understand a majestic eagle and a fierce dragon, for these great creatures captured the mythic imaginations in all cultures and, like the Tree, are highly symbolic of something or other. But a magic, immortal squirrel? What kind of a myth maker comes up with that?

Richard Rush

September 3rd, 2015

eddie said, “Help – I clicked onto the link “response in opposition” but it’s all gibberish to me. I just barely passed high school.”

Assuming you attended public schools, your experience shows one of the grave consequences of religious indoctrination being removed from those schools. If you had received proper TrueChristian instruction, you would have learned to fluently speak and understand gibberish.

Priya Lynn

September 3rd, 2015

Twirlygirly hit the nail on the head. If she’s “unable” to comply then the right thing for her to do is quit her job and let someone else issue the marriage licenses. That way there’s complies without her “violating” her conscience.

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