Thursday, August 27, 2015

6th Circuit Refuses To Stay Injunction Against Recalcitrant Kentucky County Clerk

In Miller v. Davis, (6th Cir., Aug. 26, 2015), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant a stay pending appeal of a preliminary injunction (see prior posting) issued against a Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk who has religious objections to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The 6th Circuit explains:
As the County Clerk ..., Davis’s official duties include the issuance of marriage licenses. In response to the Supreme Court’s holding in Obergefell v. Hodges ..., Davis unilaterally decided that her office would no longer issue any marriage licenses. According to Davis, the issuance of licenses to same-sex marriage couples infringes on her rights under the United States and Kentucky Constitutions as well as the Kentucky Freedom Restoration Act.... The Rowan County Clerk’s office has since refused to issue marriage licenses to the plaintiffs, and this action ensued.
The request for a stay pending appeal relates solely to an injunction against Davis in her official capacity. The injunction operates not against Davis personally, but against the holder of her office of Rowan County Clerk. In light of the binding holding of Obergefell, it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court.....
USA Today reports on the decision. [Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the lead.]

UPDATE: On Thursday, Davis' office continued to refuse to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, arguing that the district court's stay remains in effect until Aug. 31.  The district court stayed its preliminary injunction until Aug. 31 or the 6th Circuit issued a ruling. On Thursday afternoon, the clerk's office was temporarily closed for "computer upgrades." Davis is considering filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. (CBS News).