Back to News & Commentary

Dear Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, You’re In Contempt of Court and the Constitution

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis: Request Denied
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis: Request Denied
Heather L. Weaver,
Senior Staff Attorney,
ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief
Share This Page
September 1, 2015

Anyone who has taken a middle-school government class knows that respect for the rule of law is one of our most basic democratic principles. When a court orders you to do something, you can’t simply ignore it. It’s Civics 101, but it appears that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis missed class that day.

Last night, the Supreme Court denied Davis’s request for an emergency stay of a court order that requires her to immediately issue marriage licenses to local couples, including same-sex applicants.

With the Supreme Court’s decision, Davis has no legal grounds to continue defying the district court’s order. Citing her religious beliefs, she nevertheless again refused to grant a marriage license this morning to April Miller and Karen Roberts, our clients in Miller v. Davis.

But Davis’s duty as a public official is to enforce civil law, not her own personal religious views. A court has ruled that, under the Constitution, she must do her job now, and, as we all learned in civics class, the rule of law means that she cannot flout the court’s order with impunity. That’s why this morning, the ACLU and ACLU of Kentucky filed a motion to hold Davis in contempt of court. We’ve asked the court to impose steep monetary fines on Davis to induce her to comply with the injunction and issue marriage licenses to local couples like our clients.

Davis is entitled to her religious beliefs on same-sex marriage, but she can’t shirk her official duties because of them. She can’t continue to deny loving couples their fundamental constitutional rights — not without showing contempt for the court and the Constitution and not without facing the consequences that may bring.

Learn More About the Issues on This Page