POLITICS
08/31/2015 09:10 pm ET Updated Sep 01, 2015

Supreme Court Turns Away Kentucky Clerk Who Turned Away Gay Couples Wishing To Marry

The court declined to halt a federal court order that essentially requires her to comply with the Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to delay a federal court order Monday that effectively requires a Kentucky clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to gays and lesbians within her jurisdiction.

The court's one-line order offered no explanation for its response to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.

Around the time Davis filed her plea with Justice Elena Kagan on Friday, the federal judge who initially ordered her to not enforce her "no marriage policy" against gay couples declined to put on hold his own ruling to that effect, according to BuzzFeed News' Chris Geidner.

Absent an extraordinary move by Davis on Tuesday, she would seem to have no other option but to comply with the judge's order.

The Supreme Court declined to delay a federal court order that effectively requires Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davi
Credit: Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press
The Supreme Court declined to delay a federal court order that effectively requires Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis to begin issuing marriage licenses to gays and lesbians within her jurisdiction.

In her emergency petition with the court Friday, Davis argued that her "conscience forbids her from approving" marriage documents for gays and lesbians "because the prescribed form mandates that she authorize the proposed union and issue a license bearing her own name and imprimatur."

Lawyers for Davis had argued in court papers that if she couldn't be accommodated based on her religious objections, "then elected officials have no real religious freedom when they take public office."

After the Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) -- who was a losing party in that case -- ordered state clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to all couples without regard to sexual orientation.

But Davis refused time and again, even in the face of a federal lawsuit against her and an order from U.S. District Judge David Bunning telling her to comply. Last week, an appellate court told her that she had "little or no likelihood" of winning on her religious-freedom claim.

"I hope Ms. Davis will resume issuing marriage licenses tomorrow not just to our clients but to everyone who is eligible under the law," tweeted Joe Dunman, a local civil rights attorney who was also involved in the case the Supreme Court decided in June.

Despite the Supreme Court's refusal to intervene in Davis' case, her dispute remains alive in the court system: She remains free to challenge the merits of Bunning's decision before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. 

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