Today the US Supreme Court turned down the request of Rowan County clerk Kim Davis for a stay of US District judge David Bunning’s ruling that she has to issue marriage licenses to all qualified couples, including same-sex ones, pending a hearing on the merits of her case by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court had already turned down her request for a stay on the grounds that her appeal was unlikely to be successful.
As expected, justice Kagan referred her appeal to the full court and they denied it in a terse one-sentence order that simply said “The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied.” This means that all her legal options for delaying are over.
As Lyle Denniston says:
The Supreme Court’s order was not a final ruling on Davis’s argument that her right to freedom of conscience should give her an exemption from having any part in the licensing process that would lead to same-sex marriages. She has an appeal on that question now pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
She is now faced not only with Judge Bunning’s order, but a mandate from Governor Steve Beshear that she either issue licenses to same-sex couples or resign her office.
The Justices gave no explanation for turning down the temporary request, but one of the factors they consider in such a situation is whether there is a fair prospect that the Court ultimately would agree to review the case on the legal merits of her challenge.
The Justices turned her down without even asking for a response from the same-sex couples who had sued her, or from state officials in Kentucky whom Davis has sued over the issue. The fact that the Court took more than a normal business day to act on her request probably indicated no more than that the Justices are scattered during their summer recess.
So what is Davis likely to do tomorrow (Tuesday) morning? She and her lawyers were not available for a comment. Given her strong statements that issuing licenses is an abomination unto the Lord, it would look kind of craven to give up without a fight.
But what are her options? Will she barricade herself inside her office? Set fire to all the forms? Or go the full Pacino?