Kentucky clerk Kim Davis isn’t being held to a double-standard

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National Review’s deputy managing editor Nicholas Frankovich wrote today that Kentucky clerk Kim Davis isn’t being treated fairly. Why, he asks, are some officials praised for defying marriage law but Davis is not?

Antonin Gregory Scalia, aka Antonin Scalia, is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., aka Sam Alito, is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Caricature by DonkeyHotey via Flickr creative commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/19156454411/

Antonin Gregory Scalia, aka Antonin Scalia, is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., aka Sam Alito, is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Caricature by DonkeyHotey via Flickr creative commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/19156454411/

Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer, there were a series of public officials who openly defied state laws and constitutions by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, New Paltz, New York mayor Jason West, California attorney general Jerry Brown, Montgomery County Pennsylvania official Bruce Hanes defied or refused to defend state law.

Frankovich says that Kim Davis is simply doing the same thing:

The history of the movement to redefine marriage is shot through with defiance of laws that those who broke them sincerely felt were deeply wrong. To be consistent, anyone who thinks that Newsom, West, Brown, and Hanes were courageous and principled must now judge Davis by the same standard.

But it is the same standard. It’s called the Constitution.


READ Can clerks refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses? A guide to the legal debate


Officials cannot refuse to follow a law simply because they felt they were “deeply wrong.” But they can–and must–disobey them if it conflicts with the Constitution. Allegiance to the Constitution trumps state laws and constitutions. A mayor who issues marriage licenses because he concludes that marriage is a constitutional right is upholding the law, not defying it.

Now, Newsom, Brown, and other officials may have really been doing because of their own consciences or political expediency, but they had to defend their decisions as protecting constitutional rights.

Kim Davis is, in a sense, doing the same thing. She is asserting that the law violates the constitution by causing her to violate her sincerely held religious beliefs.

But Davis, just like the other officials, does not get the last word on whether her actions are constitutional. That’s the job of the courts.

When Mayor Newsom issued marriage licenses, he was taken to court. And he lost. So, he did his job. He stopped issuing licenses and worked to change the law. But when Davis lost in court, she decided to defy the Constitution by continuing her actions.

Frankovich could have had a valid argument a month or so ago. But now, when the courts have made it clear that she must issue licenses, her refusal to do so puts her in a category that other officials were not: she is in contempt.

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  • Sister Geraldine Marie, OP, RN, PHN

    Anyone can read the Constitution of the U.S. The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. One doesn’t need a court to define that fact.
    Davis is correct. And stop making ad hominem comments about her. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  • Greg1

    Davis’ point is simple fact. There is a renegade Left that openly defies federal law: California, Colorado, and a host of Leftist states continue to flaunt their defiance of federal law with open drug sales, harbor cities for illegal immigrant felons, and on and on. Why have the the federal marshals not come to arrest the San Fran City Council? Why hasn’t the federal marshals gone to Colorado to throw the State Government, which acts in defiance, in the clinker?? Of course there is a double standard. Just open your eyes, remove the scales, and look around.

  • Richard Rush

    Look, Sister, your freedom of religion stops at the line where it infringes on my freedom.

    Kim Davis’ freedom of religion has been, and still is, fully intact. She has the freedom to resign. She does not have the freedom/entitlement to be paid to do a job that she refuses to do.

  • MarkE

    The First Amendment guarantees that the GOVERNMENT will not infringe on your PERSONAL right to religious observance. However, once your personal expression conflicts with a LEGAL PUBLIC DUTY your swore an oath (to God) to follow, you have to decide what is more important – keeping your job or following your conscience. You can’t have it both ways – there is not constitutional right to “keep your job.”

  • Larry

    The 1st A also has a clause stating government shall not endorse religion. That means government cannot support or act in accordance with the purely sectarian dictates of its members. Theocrats always like to forget that exists.

    Kim David was a GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL. She was using her status as one to claim government must act according to her her religious belief and force others to do so.

    Btw Greg1, give it up with the MJ laws and “Sanctuary cities”. The analogies do not apply All you are showing is how ignorant you are about federal laws. State/local officials are forbidden to enforce immigration laws, and have no duty to check the immigration status of people. MJ laws at the federal level are very loose. They are not being violated. Most laws concerning it are at the local and state level.

    If this clerk was denying licenses to interfaith couples, you would not be supporting her so openly. You are only doing so now because you share the same bigotry that she does.

  • Greg1

    Larry, the Law is the Law. You are losing your sanity.

  • Larry

    Arguments about enforcing laws one knows nothing about aren’t worth squat. Your ignorance of the laws you reference render your argument an irrelevancy. It is foolish and dangerous in a freedom loving democracy to talk of enforcement of laws one is ignorant of, as you do. Unlike Kim Davis, in your examples there are not ignoring the law or the rulings of the court system.

    If you believed the law is the law, then you would not be excusing contempt of court, nor expecting people to ignore the rulings of SCOTUS. You also would not be making silly arguments that over 100 years of the Court ruling on civil liberties using the 14th Amendment never existed.

    I can’t help it if you are parroting ridiculous fact free arguments that are being promulgated among the wingnutshpere. I can’t help it if you are too ignorant to see the glaring faults with them.

  • LisaB

    /thread

  • Jay

    The First Amendment is not a pass to get “special rights” to disobey the law. The First Amendment gives one the right to believe whatever one wants to believe. It does not give one the right to impose one’s beliefs on others. Most importantly, the First Amendment declares that the United States can not have a state religion. The government cannot endorse religion and government officials cannot impose religious tests on others.

  • Greg1

    Larry, I am telling YOU the law is the law. If you are so bent on enforcing a supreme court decision, then you should be even more bent on enforcing existing law, that is ACTUALLY law. Once I passed a copy on the side of the road, and he pulled me over saying I violated the “Move Over” law. And just because I wasn’t even aware of it,, that did not stop him from writing me up. Ignorance of the law, only proves ignorance. It doesn’t negate law. But to cement my point, please show me the federal law that says homosexual marriage is legal marriage. I would like the name and number of that federal law.

  • Deacon John M Bresnahan

    People are dying because of Leftist politicians promoting the Sanctuary Cities program. Yet the media cheers and promotes it. Why aren’t these death causing politicians of Sanctuary Cities also behind bars???

  • Deacon John M Bresnahan

    Most people swear to uphold the U. S. Constitution and that is what Davis is attempting to do. This conflict is caused by a runaway dictatorial court which keeps trashing the Constitution.
    Even Tom Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton–among manyFounding Fathers- were worried about courts becoming law makers instead of law interpreters. And President Andrew Jackson challenged the Supreme Court to enforce its own decisions–he wouldn’t.

  • James Dunham

    Here is the Text from the Constitution.

    “Congress Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    this has been time and time again judged by the Supreme Court to not just pertain to Congress ,, BUT ALL GOVERNMENT AGENTS.

    As a GOVERNMENT AGENT Kim Davis is NOT ALLOWED AS STATED BY THE 1ST AMENDMENT TO:

    “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    By stating she was not going to obey the Constitutionally Accepted Law of the Land and even worse cited “Gods Authority” as her source of Power…

    She was in Clear Violation

  • James Dunham

    By refusing LEGAL SERVICE AS A GOVERNMENT AGENT in regards to services to Same Sex Couples..

    She as a GOVERNMENT AGENT Violated their Constitutional Rights.

    By Invoking her Religious Beliefs and God as the Authority and Source of her Defiance.. She Broke the 1st Amendment of the United States which CLEARLY SAYS that NO GOVERNMENT AGENT MAY IMPOSE THEIR RELIGIOUS VIEWS ON THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES.

  • Ben In Oakland

    Here ya go Greg. Kentucky revised statutes regarding misconduct by an official.

    A public servant is guilty of official misconduct in the first degree when, with intent to obtain or confer a benefit or to injure another person or to deprive another person of a benefit, he knowingly:
    (a) Commits an act relating to his office which constitutes an unauthorized exercise of his official functions; or
    (b) Refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office; or
    (c) Violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation relating to his office.

    522.030 Official misconduct in the second degree.
    (1) A public servant is guilty of official misconduct in the second degree when he knowingly:
    (a) Commits an act relating to his office which constitutes an unauthorized exercise of his official functions; or
    (b) Refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office;

  • Larry

    Except the 1st Amendment is not license to harm others in service of your faith. It is not meant as an endorsement of the religious belief of government functionaries as official policy. She violated her oath of office, duty to the public and common decency. She has as much entitlement to act as she did out of religious freedom as I do to commit human sacrifice of your family.

    You can take your founding father name dropping and stuff it. You know nothing of the concepts behind our liberties. You only seek license to engage in sectarian discrimination. The very kinds of acts the 1st Amendment is meant to prevent.

  • Larry

    Because your claim is largely alarmist and hysterical in nature. Most importantly most nativist arguments are free of facts or rational ideas. Most Christian churches actually support sanctuary programs and paths to citizenship. You are demonstrating something I mentioned with Evangelicals and Trump. Given the choice between religious belief and an excuse to act like a jerk, people most will pick acting like a jerk. 🙂

  • Re: “People are dying because of Leftist politicians promoting the Sanctuary Cities program.”

    So that means Ms Davis should be able to break the law and violate court orders just so she can vent her rage over gay marriage? I wasn’t aware two wrongs made a right.

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