Judge to clerk’s office: issue licenses or join Davis in jail

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Richard Rush

September 3rd, 2015

“It appears that five of the six deputies said they are fine with issuing marriage licenses.”

I’m assuming the still-undecided one is Kim’s son. This must be quite the conundrum for him.


September 3rd, 2015

Tim, the article you quote suggests there are only five deputies. But your later statement (as well as others I have seen) suggest there are 6 deputies. Where is the discrepancy?


September 3rd, 2015

Well, that was quick. She’s apparently going to be let go as long as she promises not to interfere with the deputies.

Hopefully, her son can be fired or jailed for contempt for not performing his duties.

Priya Lynn

September 3rd, 2015

” She’s apparently going to be let go as long as she promises not to interfere with the deputies.”.

LOL, she sure caved in a hurry when facing actual jail time. So much for that “Its a heaven or hell decision” “Its physically impossible for me to comply”, strongly held religious beliefs and all that rot.


September 3rd, 2015

MSNBC says she turned down the deal: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/kentucky-clerk-remains-jailed-deputies-to-issue-licenses/ar-AAdUq1U


September 3rd, 2015

Damn, I bet Mat Staver is pissed…


September 3rd, 2015

But of course, her sitting in jail is now accomplishing nothing for her cause. While she lingers, her deputies are issuing licenses, presumably with her name on them.

Lawrence A. Glinzman

September 3rd, 2015

3 years and 3 months in jail till her term runs out. Her son can join her, quit or comply with the law.
The County saves $80,000 a year not paying the Ben Franklin look alike.
Now get the other Kentucky County Clerk who obeys God but not the Constitution.


September 3rd, 2015

I’m sick of this religious soap opera. I’m staying out of the gay blogosphere (particularly Joe.My.God.) for a while. I don’t want to hear all the ‘Sadz’ and complaints from the “Religious Freedom” crowd.


Staver my act pissed on the outside. But I think he’s secretly thrilled. He has a new pawn to use in his agenda to make LGBTs miserable.

Priya Lynn

September 3rd, 2015

KZ, thanks for suggesting Joe.My.God, that was hilarious.


September 3rd, 2015

I’ll note that as the elected official responsible for issuing licenses for marriage in Rowan County, the deputies have that power only through her. Since she has revoked their authority, they might not legally be allowed to issue licenses. This leaves, I think, the county judge/executive with the sole authority to do so in Rowan County

“In the absence of the county clerk, the county judge/executive may issue a
marriage license (KRS 402.240)”

“KRS 402.240 provides that in the absence of the county clerk, or during a vacancy in the office, the county judge/executive may issue the license and, in so doing, he shall perform the duties and incur all the responsibilities of the clerk. The county judge/executive shall return a memorandum to that effect to the clerk and the memorandum shall be recorded as if the license had been issued by the clerk.”

That would seem to be Walter ‘Doc’ Blevins and he can presumably authorize the deputies to issue marriage licenses while she is absent in jail. Not sure what happens if she tries to fire the deputies (I suspect they are employed at her discretion).

As an elected official, she will likely continue to get her salary until she leaves office unless there is something in Kentucky law covering this sort of situation. Regular employment laws almost certainly don’t apply


September 3rd, 2015


My comment was from when it sounded like she wouldn’t even be spending one night in jail…


September 4th, 2015

Licenses are flowing. She refused to promise to not interfere with this activity which is why she is still being held.

Eric Payne

September 4th, 2015

From what I understand — and this is truly nuts — those licenses being issued are valid only because, at this time, Davis is unable, officially, to fulfill her duties.

But the licenses are being issued with her facsimile signature, as Kentucky law states marriage licenses must be affixed with the signature/authorization of the County Clerk.

So, when Davis is ready to resume her official duties, she could, presumably, file suit in a Kentucky court which, following Kentucky law, could declare those marriage licenses invalid.

Of course, the suddenly unmarried couples would appeal, and win, any decision of that nature in federal court…

What a world, what a world.


September 4th, 2015

How long will she be paid, and how long can she retain her position if she cannot show up for work?

Eric Payne

September 4th, 2015

@Customartist —

Until she’s impeached through legislative means or until the voters elect someone else to her position. In Kentucky, “County Clerk” is an elected position, so she can’t simply be fired. The legislature, which is not currently in session, would have to go through very specific procedures to remove her from office… and the likelihood of the legislature doing that in the 18 months she has left to serve is, virtually, nil.

She knows that; you can bet Matt Staver has already told her that.

So she won’t be removed from office… and, unless she is charged with crminal contempt of court charges, or found guilty of some crime, she will be able to run for re-election and, presumably, retain that Clerk’s position for another term.

Right now, she’s being held as a civil punishment, not a criminal contempt. If she were to be released and continue to ignore the courts’ orders, that would be a willful disregard, and subject to penalties under the criminal code.

As a test case for religious exemptions from performance of public duties, this one could be a real doozy… and, thus, the involvement of Matt Staver and Liberty Counsel. They weren’t going to help out on some case that would be over-and-out; they chose the one that could, conceivably, drag out for years.


September 4th, 2015

Eric, does that mean her post is only a two-year term?

Eric Payne

September 4th, 2015


This morning, on Morning Joe was where I heard she had 18 months left in her term. but I also seem to recall (just heard in the periphery before my personal morning joe began kicking in) she was elected via a special election when the previous clerk (who just happened to be Davis’ mother) died, mid-term.


September 4th, 2015

That makes sense, then. I had heard she was only recently elected, but most elected positions carry a four-year term. For a special election, you are only elected to finish the term of your predecessor. I suspect Davis will find herself without a job after the next election. If she stays in jail that long, then that ought to be the end of the fight for her.

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