Do you remember Kim Davis?
She’s the Kentucky court clerk who became the victim du jour in the culture wars by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A judge decided that he, and not the voters, should be the arbiter as to how Mrs Davis performed her duties as a duly elected official and put her in jail for six days for contempt of court.
Not long after that, Mrs Davis had a brief audience with Pope Francis when he visited the USA. This resulted in all sorts of hair-pulling commentary on both sides of argument about what the Holy Father’s time with Mrs Davis signaled. That resulted in a side-stepper from the Vatican in which it said he wasn’t taking sides in the argument.
The ACLU, not being satisfied with getting yes for an answer on the question of the marriage licenses, moved forward with three additional lawsuits it had filed against Mrs Davis. In my opinion, this action was intended to be punishment.
The lawsuits were, as the courts later ruled, unnecessary at this point. They had nothing to do with getting the licenses or much of anything else. The only reason for moving forward was to make sure Mrs Davis suffered.
Now the courts have tossed out those three spurious lawsuits, basing their conclusion on the fact that, since the licenses had been issued, the lawsuits were moot. (Duh.)
None of this addresses the larger issue of whether or not judges can put elected officials in jail based on the judge’s opinion of how the elected official performs his or her duties. This country has been down this road many times.
The Civil Rights struggle, with elected officials defying federal court orders (not just federal court opinions) is an example. There was a lot of back and forth, including using federal marshals to escort little children into school, but no one even considered that the courts had the right to imprison an elected officials based on the court’s interpretation of how they conducted their office.
What happened to Kim Davis was a massive broadening of judicial powers into other branches of government which slipped by unnoticed because of the screaming nuttiness of those who favor same-sex “marriage.” It is a clear violation of the separation of powers which work to preserve us from tyranny — in this case, judicial tyranny, but it could go in other ways in the future — to a judge to summarily imprison an elected official based on the judge’s opinion of the official’s performance of their duties.
Mrs Davis was elected, and that means something. Or it should.
While I’m happy about the court’s decision to throw these lawsuits out, and I am sure Mrs Davis must feel relieved not to be under the gun of a lawsuit anymore, I do not think this case is a meaningful victory for religious freedom.
I’m glad it turned out well, and I respect the efforts of the Liberty Counsel in defending Mrs Davis. But the dismissal of these cases is hardly a landmark. It’s more of a testament to the petty malice of the ACLU in trying to continue these actions against Mrs Davis long after they had already won the things that they claimed they were after.
I think this action on the part of the ACLU was designed to make an example of Mrs Davis, to drag her through the courts and damage her financially and emotionally by using the judicial process as a club with which to beat her. That’s hardly a fight for civil liberties. It is rather, the opposite.
Gay marriage proponents have employed a scorched earth method of getting whatever they want. In doing this, they have made it clear that they consider the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and individual liberties expendable.
The sad thing in all this is that they have won every match so far. This court victory, while I am very glad for what it does for Mrs Davis, does not change that.