Will Kim Davis Be Fired? Her County Clerk Job Puts Her In An Interesting Position
A Rowan County, Ky., clerk is now in jail after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples since June, citing religious convictions. She was detained for official misconduct on Thursday and has stood by her beliefs, despite all but one deputy clerk agreeing to resume issuing marriage licenses. But will Kim Davis be fired for her stance on marriage equality? It's highly unlikely given her position. Davis is an elected official, thus she cannot technically be fired. Instead, the process to remove the clerk from her position is a costly and lengthy one.
For Davis to be removed as Rowan County clerk, she would need to be impeached. Despite currently being in jail, she has yet to be formally charged by the Kentucky House of Representatives for engaging in impeachable conduct. This is the first step toward removing an elected official in Kentucky. The next step is a Senate trial. It's unclear whether impeachment will be pursued, however. Based on cost alone, it doesn't appear to be likely. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has taken a decidedly hands-off approach to Davis' case and issued the following statement after she was jailed.
Judge Bunning's decision today speaks for itself. The future of the Rowan County clerk continues to be a matter between her and the courts... The General Assembly will convene in just four months and can make any statutory changes it deems necessary at that time. I see no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money calling a special session of the General Assembly when 117 and 120 county clerks are doing their jobs.
Likewise, It's unclear how long Davis will be jailed. UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler told The New York Times that her detainment is meant more as a means of coercion rather than a punishment, thus it's almost entirely up to Davis. Winkler said:
Once she promises to obey, or once the judge determines that more jail time will not encourage her to obey, they’ll let her out. But she could be in there for a year; it’s conceivable. Judges really don’t like it when people disobey their order.
Davis has been offered a compromise allowing for her release if she simply complied and began issuing marriage licenses, but she has yet to budge on her stance. All but one deputy clerk — her son, Nathan Davis — have agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as early as Friday. Davis is also being sued by some of the couples whose nuptials she's prevented from taking place. One such couple, Karen Roberts and April Miller, say they will once again seek a marriage license on Friday after being denied three times.