Kim Davis Release from Jail

msnbc.com
Kentucky clerk Kim Davis to be released from jail
Sept. 8, 2015 4 min read original
A federal judge on Tuesday issued an order to release Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis from the Carter County Detention Center, where she has been behind bars for defying a federal order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The order for release comes from U.S. District Judge David Bunning – the same judge responsible for putting Davis in jail in the first place. Since plaintiffs in the case have been able to receive marriage licenses from Davis’ deputies, Bunning said he was satisfied the clerk’s office was complying with his order to issue the licenses. It remains unclear when exactly Davis will be released.

“On September 8, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a Status Report at the Court’s behest,” Bunning wrote in his order Tuesday. “According to the Report, Plaintiffs have obtained marriage licenses from the Rowan County Clerk’s Office. The Court is therefore satisfied that the Rowan County Clerk’s Office is fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Obergefell and this Court’s August 12, 2015 Order. For these reasons, the Court’s prior contempt sanction against Defendant Davis is hereby lifted.”

The order comes as Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee head to the Carter County Detention Center to meet with Davis and potentially score points with social conservative voters.

Praise God that Kim Davis is being released. It was an outrage that she was imprisoned for six days for living according to her Christian faith. Fundamentally wrong, and contrary to KY’s RFRA law.

Posted by Ted Cruz on Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, is “going to be doing everything in his power to ensure more Americans don’t become victim to religious persecution by the government,” an aide to his campaign told NBC News. The statement reflects Cruz’s broader strategy to run as the ultimate protector of religious freedom, which the White House hopeful consistently warns is facing an assault in America. In a separate statement on Facebook Tuesday, Cruz said “Praise God that Kim Davis is being released.”
Not to be outdone, however, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee plans to lead an “#ImWithKim Liberty Rally” outside the Carter County Detention Center Tuesday, following his visit with Davis. Cheers rang out as Huckabee entered the detention center with his wife in the early afternoon.

Davis has been in jail for five days, having been found in contempt of court last week by Bunning, a President George W. Bush appointee. In August, Bunning concluded that Davis’ religious objection to same-sex nuptials was not a good enough reason for her to deny eligible couples their marriage licenses — something Davis had been doing since June, when the nation’s highest court found same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges. Bunning ordered her to resume issuing marriage licenses to all couples — gay and straight.

RELATED: Cruz warns of ‘war on faith’ at religious freedom rally

But Davis continued to turn away couples seeking marriage licenses, even after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to put a hold on Bunning’s order pending appeal. Citing concern that financial penalties would not be enough to secure compliance with his order, Bunning found Davis in contempt of court on Thursday and remanded her into the custody of federal marshals.

On Friday, Davis’ deputies began issuing marriage licenses to both gay and straight couples, though her attorney said those licenses were “not worth the paper they’re written on.” Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins, meanwhile, has said licenses issued without Davis’ approval would still be valid.

Among several appeals that Davis’ legal team has filed with the 6th Circuit, one asks for relief from Gov. Steve Beshear’s mandate that all county clerks issue marriage licenses. If Davis’ name is removed from the licenses, her attorneys said, she will not stand in the way of her deputies issuing them.

Beshear, however, maintains that only the state legislature can change the marriage licenses, and that he will not call a special session to address the matter. To do so, he said, would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.”

Bunning said in his order Tuesday that Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” But in an interview with NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez, Mathew Staver – one of Davis’ attorneys – left open the possibility that Davis will resume her “no marriage licenses” policy once she’s released from jail. Without the removal of Davis’ name from the marriage licenses, Staver said, “nothing has been resolved.”

“She cannot allow a license authorizing same-sex marriage to go under her authority or name,” Staver said. “That’s been her position from the beginning and that will be her positions, I assume, on any subsequent occasion. She’s asking for a simple fix, a simple accommodation.”

“We’re back to square one,” he added. “She’s been released. But there has been no resolution.”

RELATED: Kentucky clerk jailed for contempt

Davis’ case has turned into a lightning rod for religious freedom advocates who oppose same-sex marriage. And for Republican presidential candidates, it has presented an opportunity to court evangelical voters and break away from the crowded field.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Huckabee defended Davis’ actions and said she did not have an obligation to uphold the law. As evidence, he referenced a favorite argument among same-sex marriage opponents — that if Americans must always obey Supreme Court rulings, that means President Abraham Lincoln was wrong to issue the Emancipation Proclamation following the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which denied citizenship to black slaves.

“You obey if it’s right,” Huckabee said when asked if Davis had a legal obligation to follow the court’s order. “Is slavery the law of the land? Should it have been the law of the land because Dred Scott said so? Was that a correct decision? Should the courts have been irrevocably followed on that? Should Lincoln have been put in jail? Because he ignored it.”

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