Will Kim Davis Go To Jail? The Kentucky Clerk Refuses To Issue Gay Marriage Licenses Because Of Her Religion
Although her request for a temporary stay was denied, a Kentucky county clerk is still refusing to issue marriage licenses, and at this point it's unclear if Kim Davis will go to jail. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has refused to grant anyone in Rowan County, Kentucky, a marriage license since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality on June 26. Since then, Davis has been ordered by a district judge, a court of appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court to do her job — but as of Tuesday, she was still refusing to issue licenses.
According to Davis, although she currently has no legal authority to withhold licenses, she believes she can do so "under God's authority." Her refusal to grant licenses is part of a protest to be exempt from granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it is against her religion.
But Davis' standoff can only last so long. U.S. District Judge David Bunning, who originally ordered her to begin issuing licenses, has scheduled a hearing for Thursday morning to determine if she is in contempt of court. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky filed two motions urging the court to hold her accountable for refusing to issue licenses and find her in contempt of court.
If Bunning holds her in contempt, it is possible that Davis could face jail time. In Kentucky, individuals can face up to six months for contempt. However, the four couples currently suing Davis for refusal to grant licenses are not requesting jail time, but rather heavy fees.
As a county employee, Davis makes up to $80,000 annually, and the entirety of her job depends on issuing licenses. By refusing to do so, she isn't just neglecting an aspect of her job — she's neglecting the entire point. According to The Washington Post, the couples are urging Bunning to consider "financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous to compel Davis’ immediate compliance without further delay."
However, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway may choose to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether Davis has violated the state official misconduct statute. According to The Courier-Journal, violating the statute is punishable by up to 365 days in jail, and individuals must meet certain provisions in order to be found guilty.
A public servant is guilty of it when, "with intent to deprive another person of a benefit," he or she refrains "from performing a duty imposed upon by law or clearly inherent in the nature" of his office or "violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation" relating to it.
Conway has not indicated whether he will open an investigation or not.
Despite the notoriety of the case, Davis is not the only clerk refusing to issue licenses. Another Kentucky clerk from Casey County is also protesting alongside Davis, vowing that he was willing to keep fighting, even if it cost him his life. Earlier in the summer, Casey Davis (no relation to Kim Davis) was reportedly told to issue licenses in Casey County or lose his job — it is unclear whether he chose to quit, but CNN reports he is currently bicycling across the country to spread awareness for Kim Davis' case.
Much of her fate lays in the hands of Bunning — as history shows, simply ordering Davis to comply will not work. And as Davis has exhausted every appeal option available to her, if found in contempt (which is likely) there is a strong likelihood that she could face jail time, or be forced to resign. Either way, it seems like the Davis case will be resolved shortly.