Kentucky county clerk legal follies update

So here’s an update on the seemingly never-ending saga in Kentucky where three of the 120 county clerks are refusing to issue licenses for people to get married because they oppose same-sex marriage. One of them, Kim Davis of Rowan County, was sued by four couples (opposite sex and same sex) who had been denied licenses and lost her case on August 12 in the federal District Court. But on August 19, the judge David Bunning temporarily stayed his order, saying “IT IS ORDERED that the Court’s temporary stay of its August 17, 2015 Order shall expire on August 31, 2015, absent an Order to the contrary by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.” [Boldface in original but my italics-MS]

On Wednesday, August 26, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously turned down her request for a stay of Bunning’s order pending a hearing of her appeal because the judges felt that her chances of winning her appeal were slim to none. That should have settled it. But Davis continued to refuse to issue licenses, claiming that she had until August 31, despite Bunning’s clear wording to the contrary.

She also requested a further extension from judge Bunning because she planned to appeal to the US Supreme Court. He initially turned down her request, likely because her chance of winning was so small.

Davis filed her appeal to the US Supreme Court yesterday (Friday, August 28) requesting that they stay Bunning’s injunction pending the Appeals Court hearing her appeal. You can see her petition here. Her petition went to justice Elena Kagan who oversees that circuit. Kagan is one of the five justices who voted in favor of same-sex marriage. She can decide on her own whether to issue a stay of judge Bunning’s injunction, or she can refer the matter to all the justices. I suspect that she will do the latter. If the justices issue a stay, that will allow Davis to continue to refuse to issue licenses until the Appeals Court issues a ruling. But even the justices who oppose same sex marriage may refuse to issue a stay since the chances of Davis winning her case on appeal is so remote. They also may not look kindly on someone who is defying their decision.

Meanwhile judge Bunning yesterday indefinitely extended his stay pending resolution by the US Supreme Court on Davis’s appeal. We don’t know when justice Kagan will issue the decision. I hope it is soon so that this saga can be brought to a close.

As a footnote, Davis ran for election to the position of county clerk in 2014 as a Democrat and was elected to a four-year term beginning January of this year. There have also been calls to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate her for misconduct.

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