The Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue gay marriage licenses may be out of legal options as she heads before a judge Thursday. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will stand before U.S. District Judge David Bunning for refusing to follow an order by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Davis may face severe criminal or civil consequences for her actions. She could face hefty daily fines and even put in jail. As an elected official, Davis cannot be fired, but she can be impeached by the state legislature. A judge can also remove her and order another official to do her job.
“I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage,” Davis said in a statement. “It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision.”
In a landmark decision in June, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution recognizes same-sex marriage. The case Obergefell v. Hodges effectively meant all states must recognize and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Despite exhausting all available legal options, Davis has refused to comply.
Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at The George Washington University Law School, notes the judge could impose significant penalties on her.
“The most obvious is contempt of court,” Turley told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Contempt sanctions can be levied as either a criminal or civil matter. The person can be threatened with jail or a court can impose a running fine.”
The fine against her could be very high. As Turley noted, it is very much up to the discretion of the judge. The severity often depends on whom it’s against and the nature of the case.
“There is actually a great range depending on the case,” he noted. “The daily running fine is generally larger for corporations and … are less common against government officials who are appearing in their official capacity.”
“Such fines against the government raise added issues,” Turley continued. “The court could also issue an order to a subordinate or to the city to circumvent the Clerk while potentially jailing the Clerk.”
“She has run out of options,” Turley concluded. “We live in a nation of laws. She appealed her case to the highest court without success. The court will now have considerable latitude in sanctioning further contempt of its orders.”
Davis maintains her appeals to the Constitution, the founding fathers, and God.
“It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Davis argued. “I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned.”
The day after the court refused her request for a stay, gay couples went to the Rowan County Clerk office to get marriage licenses.
In front of a mob of reporters Davis still denied their request citing “God’s authority.” A heated argument followed, with the couples demanding they get their marriage licenses.
Under current U.S. law, God does not have the authority to overrule the Supreme Court.
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