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Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis May Be Interfering With Issuance Of Marriage Licenses Again

Kimberly Davis

The lawyer for one of the Deputy Clerks working for Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis has raised concerns that Davis may still be interfering with the issuance of marriage licenses:

A deputy clerk in Rowan County, Ky., raised questions on Friday about whether a slapdash solution to a legal standoff about same-sex marriage licenses complied with the order of the federal judge who this month jailed the county’s clerk, Kim Davis.

The deputy clerk, Brian Mason, disclosed his concerns to a federal judge in a three-page filing in which his lawyer, Richard A. Hughes, wrote that he believed that changes to marriage license forms in Rowan County this week “were made in some attempt to circumvent the court’s orders and may have raised to the level of interference against the court’s orders.”

The filing could help prod Judge David L. Bunning of Federal District Court to decide whether the changes ordered by Ms. Davis comply with his order that she not interfere with the licensing process.

Ms. Davis, who was held in contempt of court and jailed this month after she defied an August order from Judge Bunning, said on Monday that anylicenses handed out by her office would not carry her authorization. Ms. Davis’s fix involved altering the marriage license paperwork to remove, among other items, her name. Instead, the licenses say they are issued, “Pursuant to Federal Court Order.”

Mr. Mason issued at least one license under the modified procedure, but Mr. Hughes said the deputy clerk had become concerned that there may be “some substantial questions about validity” of altered licenses.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has signaled that it might challenge Ms. Davis’s plan, said in a footnote to a different court filing on Friday that the “alterations call into question the validity of the marriage licenses issued, create an unconstitutional two-tier system of marriage licenses issued in Kentucky and do not comply with this court’s September 3 order prohibiting Davis from interfering with the issuance of marriage licenses.”

When Davis was released from custody after having been found in contempt of court for her refusal to issue marriage licenses, she was specifically ordered by Judge Bunning not to interfere with the issuance of licenses by any of the Deputy Clerk’s in her office that wished to do so. For the moment, it appears that David Mason is the only person in that office willing to issue licenses, and he has told reporters that he would do so even if Davis ordered him to. While she hasn’t done that, when she returned to the office on Monday after having taken the entirety of last week off after being released from jail, changes were made to licenses that were being issued that call the validity of the licenses into question. Originally, while Davis was still in jail, the Clerk’s in her office had issued licenses that removed Davis’s name but still noted that the licenses were being issued by Rowan County. The licenses that have been issued this week remove any reference to Rowan County and to state that the licenses were being issued pursuant to Judge Bunning’s Order issued in early August that required Davis and her office to issue licenses to all eligible couples pursuant to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. As Mason’s lawyer notes in his pleading, there have been some suggestions that these modified licenses may not be valid under Kentucky, or at least that their validity could be questioned. As I said earlier this week, these questions about the validity of the licenses could be resolved by the state legislature of by a state court judge, but that has not happened yet and, obviously, the fact that the licenses that Rowan County has been issuing since Davis returned to work may not be valid is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Ultimately, the question of whether or not Davis’s actions since returning to the office constitute the type of interference that would violate the order that issued earlier this month is a question that Judge Bunning will need to answer. His Order doesn’t specifically spell out what would constitute the type of interference that would be a violation of the Order, but that’s not all that unusual. On the surface, it would certainly seem that mandating changes to the form that aren’t authorized by the state law, and which may call the validity of the licenses in to doubt, does constitute interference on Davis’s part. She’s not required to issue license herself, but the Order states that any interference at all would be considered a violation. At the very least, it seems clear that Davis has not lived up to the promise that she made when she returned to the office on Monday that she would not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses. In theory, if Judge Bunning finds that she has again violated his Order he could hold her in contempt and send her to jail again, but that is only one of the possible options available to him. Whatever he decides to do, though, it’s clear that this case isn’t exactly over just yet.

Here’s the filing:

Kim Davis Filing by Doug Mataconis

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Guantanamo is still open, right?

    I still can’t get over the fact that this women – who has been divorced 3 times, married a 4th, and had adulterous affairs – has strong religious-based moral objections to issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. You just can’t make this stuff up any more.

    Republicans sure know how to pick martyrs.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  2. Gustopher says:

    So, now Ms. Davis’s staff are hiring lawyers, and trying to get her thrown back in jail on contempt? Awesome. Why has there not been a TV crew recording everything in this office and packaging it up into a Reality TV show?

    Also, Mr. Mason is probably going to get a bad performance review.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  3. @Gustopher:

    No, the lawyers were appointed for the Deputy Clerks by Judge Bunning because of their concerns that by following Davis’s orders they would be violating his ruling themselves. The lawyers in question are apparently serving pro bono at the request of the court to protect the rights of the deputies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  4. grumpy realist says:

    This woman is dumb enough to think that she can just cross out her name on the form and put in “pursuant to Federal Court order” instead and all’s gas and gaiters in spite of the requirements of the form being defined in Kentucky statutes?

    Why didn’t this air-head think about her tender religious feelings BEFORE running for this position? And why didn’t she raise her objections and get the whole thing fixed BEFORE having a gay couple show up at her doorstep requesting a marriage license?

    Oh, but because of JEEZUS, y’know. All-purpose excuse pulled out whenever you want to be as unprofessional as possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  5. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. sort of reminds me of the counterfeiter who, in order to counterfeit a $20 bill, decided to cut off the corners of a $20 bill to paste them over the corners of a $1 bill.

    I kid you not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    If this trailer trash wants to live in a theocracy I would be willing to donate money for a one way ticket to Saudi Arabia or Iran.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  7. James Pearce says:

    Not really surprised. Kim Davis has all along sought to use the power of her office to foist her religious beliefs on other people just trying to avail themselves of their constitution rights. She doesn’t want to remove herself from the proceedings so gay marriages can proceed unimpeded, which is really her only recourse under RFRA conditions.

    The state of KY can change their laws, and maybe they should, but what would really help is if Rowan County got themselves a County Clerk who isn’t a dick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. Tony W says:

    She’s kind of a sore loser, isn’t she?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. CSK says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I made the same point about her serial sexual peccadilloes elsewhere and was tartly informed that Davis had accepted Christ five years ago and been forgiven for her sins. Washed clean, as it were.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. DrDaveT says:

    @CSK:

    I made the same point about her serial sexual peccadilloes elsewhere and was tartly informed that Davis had accepted Christ five years ago and been forgiven for her sins. Washed clean, as it were.

    That is the orthodox position, yes, and I don’t really object to it.

    On the other hand, it’s supposed to come with a lot of other changes, too — things like “go and sin no more”, and “judge not, lest ye be judged”, and “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye likewise also unto them”, and “love thy neighbor as thyself”, and “love one another”, and “though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal”, and…

    (KJV language on account of her particular sect probably believes the Bible was originally written in renaissance English…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  11. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Why didn’t this air-head think about her tender religious feelings BEFORE running for this position?

    I don’t think she really had it much in mind, although she probably should have. In any case, she’s been working in the county clerk’s office her entire adult life, and I doubt she has ever considered doing anything else. Her mother was her predecessor as County Clerk.

    The honorable thing would be for her to resign, since if this story says what it pretty clearly seems to say, she is apparently unwilling to accept the court-defined accommodation to her religious beliefs. I’m sure she could make a handsome living on the speaking circuit, maybe write a book about how the evil liberal courts persecuted her simply for being an observant Christian, stuff like that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Gustopher says:

    All the “she should find another job that doesn’t offend her delicate feelings” arguments leave me a little queasy. There’s a strong anti-worker taint to them. She — any worker really — should be able to get a reasonable accommodation, rather than be told to violate her conscience or resign.

    She should be pilloried for neither wanting nor accepting a reasonable accommodation, rather than seeking one.

    She’s a hateful, horrible person, for sure. But even hateful, horrible people have rights in the workplace.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

  13. Franklin says:

    I must say, that I had questioned this exact thing in one of the OTB posts after her release. It’s still not entirely clear to me what the answer is, though: is this only being done for the same sex couples? If so, that’s going to be a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Pete S says:

    If she chooses to go back to jail completely on purpose, to have her little temper tantrum, can she be billed for accommodations and board?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. KM says:

    @Gustopher :

    She — any worker really — should be able to get a reasonable accommodation, rather than be told to violate her conscience or resign.

    Except she’s not interested in one. This *IS* the accommodation: she doesn’t have to personally fill out, sign or file the form or deal with the applicants at all. Somebody else is actually doing the act. She refused this reasonable alternative (swore to prevent them from issuing in fact) until they locked her up and suddenly a change of heart!! Her insistence that her name not be on this specific paperwork to the point she’s altering legal documents at will is NOT reasonable because it’s her moving the goalposts and demanding more. She’s not changing all forms all the time, just being petty and ruining the form of people she feels don’t deserve it and making it questionable legally. If they give on this, it will just be something else later on.

    The normal alternative in many faiths is opt out – anti-alcohol? Then you don’t have to serve it! Its not serve them colored water that looks like bourbon with a stamp saying “The court’s making me do this”. Your beliefs require you to absent yourself, not act out or punish others. She got her accommodation and is still complaining; therefore, many look at her and come to the very reasonable conclusion that nothing will truly satisfy her and thus she is unsuitable for her role. You can only give so much before you need to get rid of the actual problem: the unsuitable person.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  16. Facebones says:

    Throw her back in jail. If she wants to be a martyr so bad, then oblige her.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Paul Hooson says:

    There’s no cure for crazy it seems….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. jd says:

    It takes 18 months to change ‘husband/wife’ to ‘spouse/spouse’ but *this* they can do in one day!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: It is her job STOP And she has sworn an oath to do her job STOP Should Quakers be allowed into the infantry with a religious exemption for killing? Should Jenovah’s Witnesses be surgeons? Should observant Muslims be allowed to tend bars? How’s about a devout Catholic running a Planned Parenthood clinic?

    This isn’t an “anti- worker taint”, it’s a “You’re no special snowflake. Do your job or get fired.” taint. If it makes you queasy grab a trash can.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. motopilot says:

    @KM: From what I’ve read about this recently, she is doing more than removing her name from the marriage licenses of same sex couples. She has removed all reference to Rowan county. And she has done so knowing that this could very likely invalidate the marriage licenses. It seems clear what her intent is.
    So Doug…. you are an attorney… has she crossed the line from civil contempt into criminal contempt? Is she flirting with having committed a Class D felony by altering these documents?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. elocs says:

    If conservative Christians who object to gay marriage on religious grounds only knew what Apostolic Christians (been there, done that, escaped) really think of them. First off, Catholics: forget them, Apostolics believe that followers of the Whore of Babylon are all going to Hell. To be honest, Apostolics believe that pretty much everyone other than they are going to Hell. If you don’t baptize in the Name of Jesus with the evidence of speaking in tongues as proof of the required baptism of the Holy Spirit then you’re not a real Christian. Add to that keeping all of the holiness standards that prove you are a Christian such as the women must always wear dresses and never cut their hair and can never teach or have authority over men in the church but must of all they must be submissive to their husbands. It’s a near cult-like experience and most Americans are ignorant of what Apostolic Christians really believe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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  23. pylon says:

    @elocs:

    True. I wonder what they say about Huck’s Mormonism?

    Departing from that point, I could see Mr. Mason running for the position in the next election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. elocs says:

    @pylon:
    Apostolics consider Mormonism to be a cult as well as the JWs. Ironic considering that they are cult-like themselves but they believe they are the only ones doing things right like the apostles did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. elocs says:

    @pylon:
    Apostolics consider Mormonism to be a cult as well as the JWs. Ironic considering that they are cult-like themselves but they believe they are the only ones doing things right like the apostles did.@pylon:

    Also, with the impending visit by the Pope, I’m sure that Davis has heard preached that they would consider the Pope, and Francis in particular, to be the AntiChrist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. Barry says:

    @Gustopher: “She — any worker really — should be able to get a reasonable accommodation, rather than be told to violate her conscience or resign.”

    I agree, but a reasonable accommodation as a worker is not the issue here. She is using her government power as a government official to discriminate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0