ACLU asks federal court to enforce court orders against Kentucky clerk

ACLU asks federal court to enforce court orders against Kentucky clerk

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Monday filed a motion [text, PDF] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky [official website] asking the court to enforce orders relating to the issuance of marriage licenses. The ACLU is requesting that the court order the Rowan County Deputy Clerk [official website] to distribute marriage licenses as they were issued before September 8, the day county clerk Kim Davis was released from jail [JURIST report] after being held in contempt. The motion also asks the court to order the clerk’s office to file reports on its compliance in issuing marriage licenses, record any interference from Davis, and bar Davis from altering marriage licenses or penalizing other clerks who issue marriage licenses. According to the ACLU, Davis altered the marriage licenses as soon as she returned to work, forced the issuing clerk to hand out marriage licenses as a notary public, not a deputy clerk, and removed all mention of the county from the documents. This has called the licenses’ validity into question. According to the ACLU’s motion:

The marriage licenses currently being issued by the Rowan County Clerk’s Office do not conform to this Court’s September 3 and September 8 Orders, which contemplated that Davis or the Deputy Clerks would issue marriage licenses in the usual form and manner and that Davis would not interfere with that process. Davis’ conduct obstructing the Deputy Clerks’ usual process has, at a minimum, created considerable uncertainty for marriage applicants regarding the legality of their licenses and subsequent marriages.

Davis’ attorney plans to file a response [AP report] on Tuesday.

Following the US Supreme Court [official website] ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges [JURIST report] in June, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex or heterosexual couples arguing that her Christian faith should exempt her from issuing the licenses to same-sex couples. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered [JURIST report] Davis to issue the licenses in August, but she continued to refuse [JURIST report]. The following week, the Supreme Court denied [JURIST report] her bid to continue refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples pending an appeal. A federal judge held Davis in contempt of court [JURIST report] in September for her continued refusal, releasing her after several days in jail. Davis claimed upon returning to work that she would not block her clerks [JURIST report] from issuing the licenses.