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“Freedom Not To Do Her Job Whenever She Feels Like It”: Kentucky Clerk, Kim Davis, Ignores Court Rulings, Cites ‘God’s Authority’

Kentucky’s Kim Davis ran out of legal options yesterday. The clerk, who opposes marriage equality for religious reasons, has refused to issue marriage licenses to couples she decides are morally objectionable, despite the fact that Davis is paid to issue marriage licenses.

She and her attorney took the matter to court, and a federal district court judge said Davis could either follow the law or get a new job. She took her case to the 6th Circuit, which is pretty conservative, but which nevertheless rejected her case. Last week, Davis appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which turned the case away yesterday.

All of which led to this morning, when Davis decided to ignore the court rulings, the law, and her official responsibilities. MSNBC’s Emma Margolin reported:

A Kentucky clerk is still refusing to issue marriage licenses due to her religious opposition to same-sex nuptials, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, even after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the final blow to her argument.

On Tuesday morning, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis denied marriage licenses to at least two couples, telling them she was acting “under God’s authority.” She then asked David Moore and David Ermold, a couple who has been rejected by her office four times, to leave.

When the local resident said, “We’re not leaving until we have a license,” Davis responded, “Then you’re going to have a long day.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported this morning that the federal judge in the case ordered Davis to “appear in his courtroom Thursday and explain why she should not be held in contempt of court.”

As a rule, judges tend not to like it when citizens ignore the law and deliberately defy court orders. It’s worth noting for context that U.S. District Judge David Bunning, appointed to the bench by George W. Bush, is presiding over the case.

It seems likely that Kim Davis will become a cause celebre in conservative circles, a status that will grow if she’s jailed for contempt. But given every relevant detail, it’s awfully difficult to see her in a sympathetic light.

Davis is paid by the taxpayers of Rowan County to, among other things, issue marriage licenses to couples. But she doesn’t like issuing marriage licenses, at least not to everyone entitled to them.

As Davis sees it, she wants to keep her job, and continue to receive taxpayer-financed paychecks, but she also wants the freedom not to do her job whenever she feels it.

The local clerk could simply find some other line of work – one that doesn’t cause a conflict between her spiritual beliefs and her responsibilities – but Davis doesn’t want that, either. As far as Davis is concerned, she can refuse to do her job and she can refuse to find a different job.

It seems likely the federal judge will explain to her that her posture is untenable.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 1, 2015

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Kim Davis, Marriage Equality, SCOTUS | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Democracy Is Still Alive”: Ohio GOP Loses Another Round In Early-Voting Fight

When we last checked in with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), he was still trying to limit early-voting opportunities in advance, taking his case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Today, he lost there, too.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Ohio must make early voting during the three days before the election available to all voters if it’s available to military members and voters who live overseas. The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision.

“The State’s asserted goal of accommodating the unique situation of members of the military, who may be called away at a moment’s notice in service to the nation, is certainly a worthy and commendable goal,” the court ruled. “However, while there is a compelling reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent non-military voters from casting their ballots as well.”

The full ruling is online here.

To briefly recap for those who haven’t been following this story, Ohio had previously allowed voters an early-voting window of three days before Election Day, which in turn boosted turnout and alleviated long lines in 2008. This year, Republican officials wanted to close the window — active-duty servicemen and women could vote early, but no one else, not even veterans, could enjoy the same right.

One prominent Republican official recently conceded he opposes weekend voting because it would “accommodate the urban — read African American — voter-turnout machine.”

President Obama’s campaign team filed suit, asking for a level playing field, giving every eligible Ohio voter — active-duty troops, veterans, and civilians — equal access. Ohio Republicans kept pushing back, but as of today, they’ve lost.

There is, however, a catch.

For one thing, Husted and the Kasich administration may well appeal to the full 6th Circuit — which isn’t exactly the 9th Circuit when it comes to being reliably progressive — and hope for an en banc reversal. There isn’t much time remaining, but it’s something to look out for.

For another, the federal appeals court panel doesn’t require early-voting opportunities, and leaves the matter up to individual county elections boards to decide how to proceed.

As Rick Hasen explained, that may cause new problems.

[T]he court’s remedy creates a potential new equal protection problem for the state, by allowing different counties to adopt different uniform standards — though the Secretary of State could well impose uniformity.

Hasen’s take on this is a little wonky, and too long to excerpt here, but it’s worth checking out for a fuller understanding of today’s outcome.

That said, to make a long story short, today is a win for voting-rights advocates and the Obama administration, and a defeat for Ohio Republicans. It is not, however, the end of the fight, and GOP officials have some available options.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow blog, October 5, 2012

October 7, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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