Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Saga of Recalcitrant Rowan County Clerk Continues

Developments over the Labor Day weekend have made same-sex marriage opponent Kim Davis-- the Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who was remanded to jail on civil contempt charges Thursday for refusing to allow her office to issue marriage licenses-- into a high profile symbol of conservative Christian resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision. (On details of her jailing, see prior posting.)  As reported by the Washington Post, on Friday morning, Deputy Clerk Brian Mason began issuing marriage licenses without Davis' name appearing on them. The County Attorney had ruled that deputy clerks do not need Davis' approval to issue licenses.  However Davis' attorneys argue that these licenses are void.   Marty Lederman at Balkinization blog on Saturday posted a detailed analysis of Kentucky law on this and related issues.

Meanwhile Davis' attorneys have filed motions seeking to get Davis released from jail. Before Davis was held in contempt, she had already filed an appeal with the 6th Circuit seeking to overturn the preliminary injunction that had been issued ordering her to end her resistance. (See prior posting). On Sunday, her attorneys filed an amended notice of appeal (full text), appealing the contempt citation against her as well as the district court's order clarifying that its injunction required issuance of licenses to all qualified couples, not just the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. A Liberty Counsel press release announcing the filing said in part:
“While most Americans are enjoying the extended holiday weekend with family and friends, Kim Davis sits in isolation for the fourth day in jail,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “We are working through the holiday to secure Kim’s freedom”....
In a subsequent press release on Monday announcing a press conference and rally for this afternoon, Davis' attorneys said:
Kim Davis has never sought the spotlight. Although some people have said she is a hero and some accuse her of wanting to be a martyr, neither is true. Kim bristles at the thought. She loves God, loves people, and loves her job. She remains faithful to all three and that is why she is here in jail. She may be a prisoner because of her faith, but Kim is freer than most Americans.
Yesterday, Davis' attorneys also filed a separate emergency motion for an injunction (full text) asking the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to bar enforcement against her of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's memo ordering Clerks to comply with the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision, and asking that the court exempt her from being required to authorized same-sex marriages. Marty Lederman has extensive analysis of this motion as well.

Mic reports that conservative politicians are drawing analogies to the civil rights movement.  Iowa Congressman Steve King said that Davis should be considered for the Rosa Parks award, and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee compared the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision to the Dred Scott decision.