By Darren Smith Weekend Contributor
After the Rowan County Kentucky Clerk, Democrat Kim Davis, defied a court order to issue gay couples marriage licenses, and was subsequently arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Service and jailed, her husband stated that she chose to remain in jail rather than compromise her religious beliefs by performing her statutory duty. Her contempt of court ruling will stand until she resumes issuing such licenses and thus in jail she shall remain.
And so it should.
The issue is not the content of her religious beliefs that are on trial. It is that of failure to perform her duty and denial of a civil right as mandated by the Supreme Court. For this reason she has two choices: being in contempt indefinitely; or resigning her position. For the near term it is as simple as that. If she continues her defiance, a third party must step up, show some leadership, and make the decision for her by ejecting her from office.
When a politician takes an oath of office upon their swearing in they affirm to uphold the constitutions of their respective states and that of the United States, and that they will discharge also their statutory and common law duties mandated by the legislature and the state’s courts. This is not an optional recommendation, it is conditional of receiving the position and taking salary and benefits. In this case Ms. Davis knew, as a second generation politician to her mother’s thirty seven year tenure as the former county clerk, what these duties encompass. The excuses she made to justify her failure to perform on her duty are 100% irrelevant whatever they might be, religious, personal or otherwise. Her authority does not include usurping the legislature and the courts to suit her own goals.
Ms. Davis, through her attorney, claimed that a compromise can be made by the removal of her name from the certificates of marriage granted to those couples she objects to. This also is completely unacceptable. The duality of this settlement offer is that she previously stated the certificates issued by her deputy clerks, in her absence, were void.
The authorization official charged with issuing marriage licenses is that of the County Clerk, and from working convention is usually performed by a deputy delegated and commissioned through this authority. If Ms. Davis chooses to remove her name from the form, the marriage license could be contested as being invalid since it was not assented to by the county clerk. For this reason she implored the governor to call the legislature into a special session to amend the statutory language to facilitate the compromise that would be agreeable to this one individual politician–at a cost of course of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The hubris and arrogance she exudes on that demand alone certainly should be enough cause for the legislature to impeach her or the voters to generate a recall. If this becomes necessary to remove her from office a failure to act upon this by either entity and allow this usurper to remain in office would be a true embarrassment to themselves in the eyes of a great many.
Anecdotally, all of us who have worked in an official capacity know that sometimes you cannot do what you like. We cannot legally make arbitrary actions that are outside the law. To do so leads straight to corruption and an erosion of the system and the liquidity of society. The result is almost always a patchwork of patronage and differing rules and the abandonment of trust in the public that ultimately grants the government its legitimacy. The controversy is this, we stop malfeasances of office now before they lead to worse.
Not only that but in addition to moneys wasted in salary payable to an incarcerated elected official–who is unable to perform her job–it is all but certain expensive lawsuits alleging violations of civil rights will result. It is an outcome frankly the county government deserves.
Ms. Davis clearly wants to have her cake and eat it too. She reportedly takes an $80,000.00 salary along with benefits. In addition, she has family members within the employ of her office. This is why I personally find political dynasties to be in direct conflict with democracy, because it almost always leads to nepotism at least and despotism at worse. The Rowan County Clerk’s Office seems a great family business for the Davis family because that is how she seems to choose to operate it. But as the Rolling Stones famously sang…
It is time that Kim Davis “gets what she needs”…termination of her employment.
By Darren Smith
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