A years-long legal fight involving a county clerk in Kentucky who is a Christian, and who was jailed by a leftist judge when the Supreme Court abruptly created so-called same-sex “marriages” for the entire nation last decade, is heading up to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals now.
And the lawyers for Kim Davis, from Liberty Counsel, explain that the fight now is reduced to one issue – whether Davis’ free exercise rights, protected under the Constitution, were violated in the case when it was being handled by Judge David Bunning, the son of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning.
In fact, Liberty Counsel notes that the case now “could return to the Supreme Court.”
Officials with the legal team said they took the case to the appeals court after she was denied a motion for summary judgment by Bunning in a case brought by gays who demanded she violate her faith and, as clerk, issue a marriage permit.
“Liberty Counsel will argue that Davis is not liable for damages because she was entitled to a religious accommodation (which Gov. Matt Bevin and the legislature unanimously granted) from issuing marriage licenses that conflict with her religious beliefs,” the legal team explained. “In granting summary judgment for the plaintiffs, Judge Bunning ruled that Davis violated ‘clearly established’ law when she ceased issuing all marriage licenses. Davis argues that a finding of liability would violate the First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion.”
It was when Bevin took office in December 2015, he immediately issued an executive order accommodating all Kentucky clerks who refused to issue marriage licenses that conflicted with their religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court’s creation of that same-sex “marriage” status had been only months earlier.
And after Bevin’s issuance of the religious accommodation, the Kentucky General Assembly in April unanimously passed legislation that provided accommodation for clerks who object to issuing marriage licenses that conflict with their religious beliefs.
Nevertheless, the same-sex duos sued Davis, and she remains tied up in court because of Bunning’s claim that the newly created same-sex “marriage” was a clearly established precedent.
Liberty Counsel said, “In fact, (1) Kentucky has a history of accommodating clerks who because of conscience opt out of issuing hunting and fishing licenses; (2) Gov. Beshear accommodated the conscientious objection of his attorney general who requested to opt out of defending the marriage law; (3) Gov. Matt Bevin accommodated Kim Davis and other clerks the first week he took office; and (4) the Kentucky General Assembly unanimously passed a law accommodating all clerks with religious objections by permitting them to opt out of issuing such licenses.”
Based on the evidence, the team argues, Beshear’s refusal to grant Davis an immediate accommodation for her faith violated her First Amendment free exercise rights.
The case already has been to the Supreme Court once, in 2020, but the court denied review because the case at that time was only concerning the issue of sovereign immunity.
Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, however, appeared to invite a return of the arguments, because although they agreed not to hear the case at that point, they said the petition “implicates important questions about the scope of our decision in Obergefell…”
That was the case through which the justices, 5-4, created same-sex “marriage” in a ruling that Chief Justice John Roberts said was unconnected to the Constitution and other justices warned of the ramifications.
Since then, gay, lesbian and transgender activists have filed a long list of cases against Christians, Christian businesses and Christian organizations – contending that they now have to adopt and endorse that ideology to conform to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
However, the Christians have defended themselves on the basis that their religious rights are protected in the Constitution, and a newly created “right” to an ideological marriage status cannot force them to violate that.
The Supreme Court took a partial step toward endorsing that in affirming the position of the Colorado baker sued for declining to promote homosexuality with his artistry, and now has a new case pending in which that is the central question – can a state force citizens to violate their faith, as protected by the Constitution, to comply with regulatory non-discrimination plans.
“Kim Davis is entitled to an accommodation based on her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage. This case now goes to the Circuit Court of Appeals and has a high potential of reaching the Supreme Court,” said Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver.
It was Bunning who, when the case first was developing, lashed out angrily at Davis for standing by her faith, and he ordered her to prison for that.
In fact, court documents in the case reveal Bunning was so anxious to rule in favor of the homosexual duos that he didn’t wait until he had jurisdiction in the case before holding a hearing.
Then he overturned the recommendation of a magistrate who ruled the homosexual duos were not the prevailing party in the case.
Part of the dispute has been that the homosexuals are demanding damages as the “prevailing” party, even though the circumstances had changed significant. They even demanded in court that the licenses they were granted, by Davis’ deputies without her name, be “re-issued” with Davis name on them.
After the high court’s decision, Davis had suspended issuing all marriage licenses from her office so there would be no discrimination.
Bunning jailed Davis when she refused his orders to issue those licenses in violation of her faith. He then grilled her deputies, threatening them also.
WND reported when the high court looked at Davis’ case the first time, Thomas called Davis a “devout Christian” who “found herself faced with a choice between her religious beliefs and her job.”
“Due to Obergefell, those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws,” Thomas wrote. “Moreover, Obergefell enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss.”
Thomas said the Supreme Court recognized a right to same-sex marriage “even though that right is found nowhere in the text” of the 14th Amendment.
“Several members of the court noted that the court’s decision would threaten the religious liberty of the many Americans who believe that marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman. If the states had been allowed to resolve this question through legislation, they could have included accommodations for those who hold these religious beliefs,” he said.
“The court, however, bypassed that democratic process. Worse still, though it briefly acknowledged that those with sincerely held religious objections to same-sex marriage are often ‘decent and honorable’ … the court went on to suggest that those beliefs espoused a bigoted worldview…”
Thomas noted the four justice who dissented in Obergefell “predicted that ‘these … assaults on the character of fair-minded people will have an effect, in society and in court.'”
“Those predictions did not take long to become reality,” he wrote, citing the Davis case.
The former county clerk is a Christian, he said.
“When she began her tenure as clerk, Davis’ sincerely held religious beliefs – that marriage exists between one man and one woman – corresponded with the definition of marriage under Kentucky law,” Thomas said.
At the time, she was lobbying for amendments to state law to protect religious rights, he said.
“But those efforts were cut short by this court’s decision,” he said.
“As a result of this court’s alteration of the Constitution, Davis found herself faced with a choice between her religious beliefs and her job. When she chose to follow her faith, and without any statutory protection of her religious beliefs, she was sued almost immediately.”
Thomas warned that “those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws.”
He pointed out that even courts are infected with anti-Christian bigotry, with “one member of the Sixth Circuit panel in this case [describing] Davis’ sincerely held religious beliefs as ‘anti-homosexual animus.'”
“Since Obergefell, parties have continually attempted to label people of good will as bigots merely for refusing to alter their religious beliefs in the wake of prevailing orthodoxy,” he said.
He said Obergefell will continue to have “ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”
Bunning, in the case, had sided with the gays even after Magistrate Judge Edward Atkins, who was assigned to review the evidence, said they were not the prevailing party and were not entitled to fees.
He ruled that even though they were not successful, they still “prevailed.”
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