Gay Marriage

County Clerk Still Refusing to Issue Gay Marriage Licenses—But This Isn't About Religious Liberty

There is no right to draw a paycheck for a job you refuse to do.


Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

A Christian county clerk in Rowan, Kentucky, has been refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the grounds that it would violate her religious beliefs. Appealing to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan for relief from an order by the state that she begin granting the licenses, she was rebuffed yesterday by the high court.

As a libertarian and a person of faith, I don't often utter these words, but Justice Kagan is in the right and the Christian county clerk is in the wrong.

Storm clouds have been gathering for quite a while in the battle over religious liberty and conscience protections in this country. Christian bakers and florists are being fined for declining to provide their services for gay wedding ceremonies, and people are increasingly agitating for federal laws that would make sexual orientation a protected class, in essence forbidding a private employer from declining to hire someone who is gay. These are grave injustices being done or contemplated by the government, against Americans, in violation of our First Amendment liberties.

Private individuals should have the right to live out their faith, and that includes deciding whom to employ and with whom to do business. Equally as important, when making those decisions they should have the freedom to determine which criteria matter most to them. Put simply, people should be able to start a business or a civic organization and run it in accordance with their values.

If you were looking for a guiding maxim for a free society, one contender might be that citizens should not be forced to enter into private contracts against their will. This means that you can't be made to work for a particular organization if you don't agree with the terms of employment being offered. But it also means that I can't be made to hire a particular job candidate or take on a particular client if I don't think doing so would advance the mission of my orgainzation. That's what freedom looks like.

The governor of Kentucky has ordered the Rowan County clerk, Kim Davis, to fulfill the requirements of her job by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples or else resign her office. She is refusing to do either, in violation of the law. For this she will face consequences—perhaps charges, perhaps impeachment, perhaps some other sort of sanction a judge decides is proper. This is as it should be. There's no right to draw a paycheck for a job you're actively refusing to do.

Some on the right have suggested that employees should enjoy conscience protections allowing them to refuse to perform actions they don't agree with without having to worry about losing their jobs. They add that this should apply equally to public and private employees. From a libertarian perspective, however, I don't see how that holds water. At the risk of repeating myself, an employer should have the right to decide whether or not to employ someone. As long as the decision doesn't violate a contract both parties entered into, he should also have the right to terminate someone's employment—especially if the employee is refusing to carry out an important part of the job. I wouldn't support forcing a private business owner to keep someone on the payroll who isn't fulfilling all his duties any more than I support forcing the government to keep paying the county clerk that has decided not to hand out marriage licenses to people she doesn't want to be married.

Imagine if I took a job at a pro-life advocacy group and then announced that arguing against most abortions violated my beliefs! (Not that that would ever happen, but you get the idea.) 

When the Hobby Lobby decision was handed down by the Supreme Court last year, I cheered a great victory for religious liberty and the idea that people should be able to live out their values on their own terms. I only wish that most basic protection extended to everyone, religious or not, regardless of the type of enterprise in which they're involved. The state ought not be in the business of dictating the terms of private contract to consenting adults. But neither can an obstinate adult refuse to uphold the law she publicly swore to serve without facing any consequences.

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  1. When your faith and your job are in conflict, it’s time to give one of them up.

    1. Unless it is your “right” to be off work on a particular day of the week, particular time of day, wear certain clothing, wear your hair in a certain way, not bake a certain cake…

    2. And Fist pretty much wraps it up with the first comment.

      You should try going for firsties more often, Fist.

      1. Most of the time I don’t know why people even bother commenting after me.

      2. I wasn’t that late coming to the thread, but Fist managed to kill it with the first comment.

    3. Related to said comment:

      Union sues furniture maker because he said he’ll close the factory rather than accept unionization of workforce because of “religious reasons.”

      Looks like there’ll be only one correct choice to your proposal.

  2. John versus Bo!…see you all in like 400 comments or so

    1. Curse you for summoning Those Who Shall Not Be Named!!

      *shakes fist*

      1. Hastur vs. Voldemort?

        Oops, dammit!

        *runs away*

  3. She needs to get back to work and just follow orders.

  4. Bitch just get a different job.

  5. Of course no one is asking why you have to ask for the government’s permission to get hitched in the first place….

      1. No you’re not.

        1. Did too. Look at the poly thread.

    1. And this is, again, another problem that would be solved by ending the government monopoly. If government wasn’t in the business of granting that permission, a marriage would be as simple as finding a notary. And if one notary won’t help you, find another.

      1. Contracts are valid even without a notary.

        Its helpful, but not required.

        1. Forget it, I’m rolling.

  6. She will have to be impeached by the state legislature to be formally removed from office. There is no way that the KY state government votes to impeach her.

    Fining her and holding her in jail on contempt of court just makes her a martyr, which might be the real story of why she’s doing this. (And fining / jail someone over contempt of court rubs my rutabaga the wrong way.)

    1. I have no problem fining her the amount of her pay check until she starts doing her job. What other punishment can their be for violating a court order (confirmed by SCOTUS no less)? If court orders can’t be enforced then what is the point.

      1. Marriage certificates are only part of the job, so she would have to have a pro-rated fine.

        And I have far less problem fining for compliance than jailing her. She’s not going to do her job from a jail cell either and she would still have to be impeached.

        1. Are we gonna fine every government employee who doesnt do their job?

          Because I can start making a list.

          1. The problem with that is you don’t want most government employees to do their job. If they all just came to work and watched porn and smoked crack, the world would be a much better place.

            1. What Jordan said.

              1. So why are people HERE bitching about the clerk?

                And isnt she in Rowan County, not Christian County? Christian County is Hopkinsville and Fort Campbell.

                1. My brother was stationed at Fort Campbell. I’m sure everyone cares….

                  *returns to anonymity*

                2. I think it is “County Clerk who is a Christian.” Stephanie probably doesn’t know about our cavalcade of teeny counties.

                  1. Isn’t Christian County the largest of our teeny counties?

                    1. Pike is larger by physical size (Christian is #2), Jefferson by population.

                    2. I forgot about Pike. But as it is just eastern WV, no wonder.

                      And I know by population, obviously.

                      IPA release on Thursday evening.

                    3. I was just enlightening these gathered folks on the counties of Kentucky. 🙂

                    4. The only county in Kentucky that matters is Bourbon County.

                    5. Bourbon County is dry.

                    6. Western WV, not eastern.

                    7. Slow. We are releasing our 2nd beer on Thursday. That will give us a Hefeweizen and and IPA on tap (plus a bunch of guest taps).

                      I’ve got some places wanting me on tap when I get distribution up and going, but that is taking some time. By end of September though.

                  2. Nitpicking on that…she isn’t in Rowan, Kentucky but in Morehead, Kentucky.

                    It reads like city of Rowan in Christian County.

                    1. Slightly OT, but even at the ripe old age of 40-something I still giggle every time I see signs for Morehead and Big Bone Lick state park. Two fantastic place-names, one great state.

                  3. Yes, sorry. She’s a Christian county clerk, not the Christian County clerk.

            2. 2 more Kentuckians than just me? Nice.

              1. There 4 or 5 of us, and a few ex-pats.

                1. I used to live near Cincinnati. That makes me legally Kentuckian, I believe. One drop.

                2. I’m surprised you all haven’t run into each other at the family reunion. Or are you from different clans?

                  1. There’s a reason no one likes you, Hugh. And it’s not your atrocious aftershave.

                    1. So you’re saying it’s not atrocious enough?

                  2. I fucked my third cousin, not my second. Different family schedule.

        2. By this logic if I decide that I don’t want to do part of my job I should only be partially fired? Perhaps have my pay cut by a certain % instead?

          This makes no sense to say it should be a pro-rated fine.

          1. She can be fired via impeachment. Until then, I think she gets full pay.

          2. It depends on what she is being fined for. If it is to recoup the work she is not doing, then pro-rating it makes perfect sense. If it is a punitive fine to force compliance to a court order, then it should have a floor of her entire net pay and escalate from there.

            But then, do you really think she will be paying any of those fines? A huge daily fine will just trigger donations and fundraising and still won’t led to impeachment.

            1. Imprisonment would probably be the way to go, then.

              1. Correct. Fine her first, then escalate to imprisonment. If she’s in jail they have no choice but to impeach her.

          3. If your religious convictions require that you wear a full beard in a razor showroom, then no. According to the way the courts have been going anyway.

    2. They don’t banish uppity types to Indiana anymore?

    3. This just in: SugarFree is all for elected officials stealing taxpayer dollars.

      1. Being for something and recognizing that it is inevitable are two different things.

        1. No it’s not.


        2. Too late. You’ve been branded.

          1. He has his own theme song

  7. Reminds of that recent dustup Cruz had at his bbq, the gay actress arguing whose rights got trampled. All the derp sites were crowing that she had schooled him by refusing to agree that a gay baker should be able to refuse to bake a cake for Christians. Of course they crowed; they simly can’t imagine such a bizarre scenario, so no skin off their back.

    It all comes down to individuals. Crimes are charged individually. Taxes are paid individually. Warrants have individual names. Responsbility, accountability, authority, are all individual. (I am not counting organizations, since they are, or should be, merely voluntary organizations of individual.) No one comes with an arrest warrant or jury summons for a family or protected class or any other collective noun.

  8. Yep, this one just isn’t that hard. You don’t get to choose what part of your state job to do because of your bleefs.

    Personal business? Different story, IMO. State job? State rules. You work for MY company? You do what WE say. You don’t like it cause of your religion? Get another job. Or do the job you’re being paid to do.

    And, no, I don’t want to get into stupid reductio ad absurdums about “what if someone was paying you to kill som….” SHUT THE FUCK UP! WE’RE TALKING ABOUT MARRIAGE LICENSES!! ISSUE THEM! OR GET ANOTHER JOB! Fuck.

    1. Doesn’t Marbury v Madison come into play here?

      Exchange religious beliefs for political gamesmanship, but basically same thing.

    2. Hmm… Fedgov + gay constituency vs. County clerk + Christian constituency hmm…

      I don’t know that I like her collecting salary for not doing her job, but I’m pretty sure we don’t get to libertopia by watching SCOTUS fuck around in Nowhere, KY and saying, “Yup, they did the right thing getting involved there!”

      I mean, if we have county clerks refusing marriage licenses whimsically, what’s next? Anarchy?

      1. One can only hope.

        1. Seriously, without marriage licenses, how are the people of KY supposed to force bakers and photographers to do their bidding? How are bakers and photographers supposed to know?

          I hope they cut her pay and she finds something else to *not* do for principled (non-libertarian because Christian) reasons. Then, once there’s nothing left to cut and they kick her out of the position, I hope she finds another position to get elected to, runs on the platform of smaller government and equality and does the exact same thing again.

          It’s like a bizarro gay “rights” movement.

    3. Interestingly, in TX judges are not required to perform weddings as part of their official duties and even the gay advocacy lawyer was fine with sitting judges refusing to perform any weddings rather than perform same sex marriages. Clerks must issue wedding licenses, however.

  9. “There is no right to draw a paycheck for a job you refuse to do.”

    But it’s okay for the government firing people because of their religious convictions?

    If this were a private business, they’d move her to another job–not fire her because of her religion.

    My guess is that they can’t move her without cause–because she’s in a public employee union. If you want to go after the stupidity here, why not go after that? Why not go after the public employee union instead of the First Amendment?

    1. You are mistaken. I can fire you for not doing your job. I don’t need to displace someone else b/c you won’t do your job, or follow our contract because of your bleefs.

      We have a name for these people – “Seventh Day-Shift-Only Adventists”. You knew you had to do shift work when you signed up. Being midnights because of your service date conflicts with your religion? Buh bye….

      In this case, they may actually be able to reassign – I don’t know the particulars. But it’s not the case that “a private business would move her to another job, not fire her b/c religion”. You’re not firing them for religious beliefs – you can believe anything you want. But you have to do the job I pay you to do.

      1. “We have a name for these people – “Seventh Day-Shift-Only Adventists”. You knew you had to do shift work when you signed up. Being midnights because of your service date conflicts with your religion?”

        Most Adventists don’t have any problem with that.

        Requiring people to work a shift they knew they were going to have to work anyway is different from making them do something they didn’t have to do when they signed up for the job.

        Also, most Adventists in that situation will make the objection–just so they can feel like they don’t have any choice but to work the shift–and once that happens, they work it anyway–and then give their salary that day to charity. Adventist farmers will even do that with like dairy cows. Yeah, they have to milk those cows on Saturdays–and so they give that milk (or its cash equivalent) to charity.

        Then again, Adventists are fundies who typically break pro-choice because they’re so anti-government and freaked about the apocalyptic prophecies in Revelation, they’d rather people were allowed to do something abhorrent like abortion than let the government impose what amount to religious precepts on the unwilling.

      2. I’ve knowm lots of Adventists. Getting the shaft because they won’t work on Friday nights or Saturdays is something most assume will happen. There is a private organization outside the church that pushes for freedom of religion in the way you’re talking about for Adventists–but it’s an organization outside the church because the church itself generally won’t condone lobbying or any other form of engagement with politics, really.

        The government is an institution of the devil, and engaging with it is generally considered misguided. Lots of Adventists won’t even sue you in court. Someday, Jesus is gonna come back and burn the government to the ground, and then it won’t be able to hurt or corrupt Adventists anymore.

        Adventists typically go into military as conscientious objectors when they’re drafted against their will, too.

        You should read about Desmond Doss and Operation Whitecoat.

        If there’s a more natural ally of libertarians within fundamentalist Christianity, I can scarcely imagine what that is. Their religious beliefs don’t present any threat to liberty that I can see.

        1. Whatever. I just know people have tried this at my actual work. “I’m 7th Day Adventist. I can only work during the light.” “You’re on midnights.” “That’s an issue.” “You’re on midnights or you’re fired.”

          I don’t for a minute believe these are “real” Adventists. They’re people who thought they’d scam us. I’m just telling you it happens, we have a name for it, and I can fire people who tell me they won’t do certain work “for religious beliefs” without running afoul of the law, whether or not that law is an ass.

          Good DAY, sir!

          /John Adams

          1. They probably are real Adventists, and I don’t think anyone has to be perfectly consistent in their religious beliefs in order to be a real Scotsman Adventist.

            However, to assuage their conscience, some will object–in order to be overruled. In other words, they want to have no choice. It solves the dilemma.

            Once they have no choice, they can work it and give the earnings to charity–and they’re absolved from guilt. Working on the Sabbath isn’t necessarily a sin–it depends.

            Adventist ER Doctors work on the Sabbath, and, like I said, farmers do, too. But their conscience requires them to object–to do it because they have to–and not do it for their own gain.

            Adventist firemen who work on Saturdays becasue people’s houses catch fire on Saturdays are just as Adventist as anybody–but they will still try to avoid working on Saturdays if they can. I don’t see anything wrong with that from any perspective.

            There’s no harm in asking.

    2. If it were my private business I’d fire her.

      1. I think it’s wrong to fire somebody simply for their religious convictions.

        If she were my employee, and I suddenly had to make her do something that violated her religious convictions, I’d offer her another job somewhere else in the company doing something that didn’t violate her religious convictions.

        Like I said, it would be one thing if she were required to do this when she was hired, but that isn’t the case, here. This is new!

        And the fact is that she isn’t working for a private employer; she’s working for the government. And I don’t want the government discriminating against people because of their religion. It’s a First Amendment thing.

        And besides, the problem isn’t the First Amendment. The problem is the government employee union. They should be able to move her somewhere else. Why pretend the problem is the First Amendment when it isn’t.

        1. The problem is the government employee union.

          Is she in a government employee union? I didn’t see it mentioned.

          1. I was under the impression she was in a subordinate rather than in a supervisory role.

            Still, solving a problem like this is easy in a non-union environment. You fire ’em. You offer them a different job. Whatever.

            It certainly doesn’t become national news. If the handling of marriage licenses were contracted out to the private sector and there were no public employee unions involved, this wouldn’t even begin to be an issue.

            If she has to be voted out, impeached, or found in contempt to be removed, then the problem is more about the government being involved rather than a public employee union being involved.

            …this time.

            1. You’d be surprised, too. I’ve worked with cities where the entire code enforcement division was a file-clerk level yokel named Eugene. If he decided he wasn’t going to do something, unless you were friends with his friends, there wasn’t a whole lot you could do about it–except sue the city.

              1. You’d be surprised, too.

                Not really, I’ve seen more examples of government intransigence than I care to mention.

            2. it sounds like she’s an elected official, I’ll try to look it up

            3. She’s not ‘a’ clerk, she’s ‘the’ Clerk

            4. but the legal twist here – virtually every headline states that she is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couple, which is in part correct, but in fact she has stopped issuing ANY marriage licenses, same or hetero. This does not prevent anyone in her county from getting married, as they can apply in any country in Kentucky, even in the marriage takes place in Rowan Co.

    3. If this were a private business, they’d move her to another job–not fire her because of her religion.

      No they wouldn’t. If someone refused to serve gay people in my business, despite my express orders, I’m firing them immediately.

      My guess is that they can’t move her without cause–because she’s in a public employee union. If you want to go after the stupidity here, why not go after that? Why not go after the public employee union instead of the First Amendment?

      The First Amendment does not mean you have the right to stay in a job you refuse to do properly because of you religious beliefs. If a Muslim judge tried to argue that he couldn’t have a jury comprised of both men and women because they need to be segregated, I’d want that guy kicked from the bench immediately. Do you disagree on first amendment grounds?

      1. “No they wouldn’t. If someone refused to serve gay people in my business, despite my express orders, I’m firing them immediately.”

        Good employees are generally hard to find and hard to train.

        Most businesses don’t want to unnecessarily get rid of an otherwise valuable employee.

        If she’s polite to the customers, shows up on time, doesn’t steal food or money out of the cash register, gets along with her coworkers, and does what she’s told so long as it doesn’t violate her religious convictions, then you’d probably rather keep her if you can.

        Also, serving gay customers and participating in what amounts to a marriage ceremony in her mind probably aren’t exactly the same thing.

    4. She is an elected official and can only be removed from office by impeachment at the state level.

      1. They keep calling her a “clerk” elsewhere, and I’m used to thinking of that as like a file clerk.

        So there is a mechanism to remover her from office.

        They could elect someone else.

        They could impeach her.

        The courts could hold her in contempt.

        The First Amendment doesn’t even enter into it.

    5. My understanding is that she is not a normal employee (i.e. can’t be fired, only impeached).

      If she were a normal employee, my attitude would be more, hey the state has to provide services, but an individual hired when the law was different who has moral objections to the new law, how is that different from e.g. laws allowing pharmacists not to dispense certain products if they have a moral or religious objection? Especially if they were hired before a particular product was sold? Why should she personally be subject to contempt?

      However it sounds like she is more a public official, so as at least one other poster noted, I’m thinking more Marbury v. Madison, compelling someone to do their public duty.

      That said, while I disagree with her stance, how is what she is doing worse than the many politicians who knowingly vote in favor of laws that will clearly be held to be unconstitutional later?

    6. But it’s okay for the government firing people because of their religious convictions?

      Your reason for refusing to work is not really interesting to me. It is the “refusing to work” part that gets my attention, as an employer.

      1. In this case, the employer is the government–and that changes everything.

        Maybe that’s a great reason to limit the scope of government. Accommodating everybody’s religions is a pain in the ass–and religion is just part of it.

        Maybe we’d be better off going with voluntary associations instead. Why does the government need to be in the marriage business anyway?

    7. If this were a private business, they’d move her to another job–not fire her because of her religion.

      That’s certainly the nice thing to do, but the private business would still have the legal right to fire her.

  10. Some on the right have suggested that employees should enjoy conscience protections allowing them to refuse to perform actions they don’t agree with without having to worry about losing their jobs. They add that this should apply equally to public and private employees. From a libertarian perspective, however, I don’t see how that holds water. At the risk of repeating myself, an employer should have the right to decide whether or not to employ someone. As long as the decision doesn’t violate a contract both parties entered into, he should also have the right to terminate someone’s employment?especially if the employee is refusing to carry out an important part of the job. I wouldn’t support forcing a private business owner to keep someone on the payroll who isn’t fulfilling all his duties any more than I support forcing the government to keep paying the county clerk that has decided not to hand out marriage licenses to people she doesn’t want to be married.

    100% right. One other issue is that gay people in her county are paying her salary through taxation and then she refuses to give them marriage licenses. Thus she is taking their money and refusing to provide the service they are paying her for.

    1. She is refusing to issue any marriage licenses to anyone.

      1. Yup. She is fucking with a lot of people’s lives right now.

        1. Eh.

          If the Warren County Clerk had refused to issue mine, I wouldnt have cared.

        2. I haven’t seen any breeders stomping their feet and crying on national television

        3. But anyone in her county can go to the next county, or any in the state, to get a license. It’s an inconvenience. This is likely what her legal argument will rest on – that she’s not discriminating because she’s not issuing to anyone, and that those people aren’t being denied because they can go elsewhere. She basically just decided to go out of business in that particular service.

      2. Wow, that’s even worse. She’s literally refusing to do her job at all and people are defending this idiot.

        1. ^^this

          it’s utter insubordination and failure to perform.

          If KY law says she has to be impeached, welp – I guess that’s for Kentuckians to decide to do or not do.

        2. Not an idiot at all. Refusing to issue any marriage licenses means she is not violating the recent SCOTUS decision, which only prohibits discrimination.

          I’m old enough to remember when libertarians at least claimed to think the govt should do exactly what this woman is doing — get out of the biz of issuing marriage licenses. Now that they got their gay marriage ruling the mask has slipped though.

  11. This case is no different than a Sheriff refusing to issue concealed carry permits in a state that just passed a “shall issue” law. The Sheriff should be removed from office.

    In this specific case, since the clerk can’t be fired and the legislature can’t be trusted to remove her, I have no problem with a federal judge throwing her in a cell.

    1. I have no problem with a federal judge throwing her in a cell.

      I do, but only because there are higher ranking government officials who show go in the cell first.

      If Obama isn’t jailed by a federal judge for not doing his job, why should she be?

      What is the difference?

      1. In a more just world, most of current administration would be in prison taking turns guarding each other.

        But one of the legitimate functions of the federal judiciary is making sure state-level officials follow the constitution.

        They can start with this clerk.

        1. I don’t think its a constitutional violation to fail to perform ones job though.

          That is for the legislature of the state to deal with. Whether the legislature can be “trusted” or not isn’t a federal court issue. That is politics.

          Like I said upthread, this is Marbury v Madison all over again.

          1. So the game plan is to avoid a federal charge of violating the rights of same-sex couples by refusing to issue licenses to any couple. In this case, it is clearly a state-level problem.

            Of course it is clear to any sentient being that she is taking this course specifically to avoid issuing licenses to same-sex couples as proven by her many public statements and the submissions to the court. So it is actually not unreasonable for a federal judge to say the scheme is utterly transparent and hold her in contempt.

            1. Or, just say, its up to the legislature to impeach or the voters to not vote her into office next time.

              1. The 14th amendment makes this a federal issue.

                Should the feds have had to get involved? No, the state should have dealt with this matter internally. Shame on them for not doing so.

                1. Why is it covered by the 14th amendment? By not issuing any licenses, she is treating everyone equally. The question is whether she is failing to carry out her oath of office by denying services she is obligated to provide. For that she can be impeached or voted out of office.

  12. I agree with most of this!

  13. This all begs the question – is the Supreme Court decision right (it’s wrong), and if not, what *are* the duties of a government official when the Supreme Court issues a lawless decision?

    Abraham Lincoln – that great American – discussed this in the context of the Dred Scott decision, which invented a right to hold slaves in federal territories (and denied African-American citizenship):

    1. “I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court, nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case upon the parties to a suit as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the Government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.”


      1. There’s also Ableman v. Booth, where the U.S. Supreme Court said an abolitionist who freed a slave would have to serve a prison sentence, while the Wisconsin courts defied the U.S. Supremes and said the abolitionist should be freed. At issue was the constitutionality of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, upheld by the Supreme Court and declared unconstitutional by the Wisconsin judges, and it was under this act the abolitionist was held in prison.

      2. Lincoln also ignored the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that he didn’t have authority to unilaterally suspend habeas corpus during the Civil War.

        1. To be fair, it was the Chief Justice (Roger Taney) on circuit, not the full Court.

    2. “Lawless” in this case defined as “any decision Eddie personally doesn’t like the outcome of”.

      1. Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.


  14. Steyn had an eloquent if misguided article on this subject:

    Right now across the land town and county clerks are resigning because they cannot in conscience issue same-sex marriage licenses. In one Tennessee county, the entire clerk’s office has resigned. They are observant Christians – which is to say they hold the same view of marriage that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton claimed to until the day before yesterday. But an observant Christian can no longer work in the American civil service, or at least in those branches of it responsible for issuing marriage licenses:

    In it he compares the eviction of Christians who refuse to issue marriage licenses to all comers to the dejudification of the civil service in Germany. He claims that Christianity is being driven out of society and marginalized by gay rights.

    I think this is overegging the pudding? a lot! It used to be that the Mormon church had an official church doctrine that blacks were inferior to whites. Were a Mormon justice of the peace to claim that the 14th amendment conflicted with her religious principles, should she have been tolerated in the civil service?

    1. It is the lot of every person who has a moral code that is in conflict with state dictates to be unwilling to hold certain offices. I could not be a prosecutor ? there are laws that I violently disagree with that I would be expected to enforce. Ditto being a cop. Unlike Eric Dondero, I view serving on my local draft board as being immoral. I could not be a mayor, or a tax collector, or a justice of the peace.

      In the commonwealth of MA, there is effectively a religious test for public office; I sat in on a candidates forum where the candidates were grilled on “how green are you?”. The wrong answer cost one guy the endorsement of a local paper. This sort of crap has been going on from time immemorial, and yet society survives.

      In the end, some Christians will give up their government jobs. Others will give up their reluctance to assist gays in their sinful ways.

      And society will continue to careen down the bobsled course of history.

      1. There’s also the fact that some states have granted judges and clerks a *statutory* right to refuse marriage duties (in whole or in part). In states with such statutes, we can hardly say that “those officials need to do their jobs!” because the definition of their jobs does *not* include marriage.

        1. Is one of those states Kentucky?

      2. You misspelled DONDERRROOOOOOOOOO.

    2. Steyn is completely off base. There are tons of ‘observant Christians’ who don’t care about issuing gay marriage licenses as part of their job. 80% of this country is in some sense Christian and the entire civil service has not been depopulated because they’re leaving.

      Moreover, if you have a moral code in conflict with some organization for whatever reason, you should be willing to suffer for that code. The Christians who are resigning are behaving the way they ought to behave, by deciding they can no longer in good conscience perform their job duties and leaving office as a result. The one who wants to stay in her position and collect her pay while whining about how oppressed she is, on the other hand, can go fuck herself.

      I have moral qualms against becoming a cop because I don’t like the way policing is done in this country and would not want to compromise my morals. By Steyn’s logic, this is a grave affront to my basic rights because it means libertarians can’t be police officers.

  15. (ORDER LIST: 576 U.S.)
    MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2015
    The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by
    her referred to the Court is denied.


    1. Most of the Supreme Courts decisions are denying people’s petitions – either because the people are legally wrong or because the Supremes don’t want to deal with the case.

  16. If you don’t want to perform the normal and routine functions of the job, as defined by your employer:
    It’s simple, really.

    1. Her employer doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with it.

      1. Technically, one of her employers is the Supreme Court, so yes they do.

    2. It’s the people of Kentucky who employ the clerk, and the people of Kentucky added the following to their constitution in 2004:

      “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

      (see Wikipedia, Same Sex Marriage in Kentucky)

      By your logic, then, all government officials in Kentucky should follow their employer-prescribed job duties, which means only recognizing man/woman marriage.

      But, you say, that’s unconstitutional? OK, then, you’ve allowed an exception to your own principle when the employer orders something illegal.

      But that’s not the proposition you were originally defending.

      1. Alternatively, since the clerk is an elected official, her employer should be considered to be the people of her community, in which case they can simply fire her at the next election – if that’s what they want to do. I actually don’t know what her voters would want to do.

      2. The people of the United States employ the Supreme Court, which supercedes the people of Kentucky.

        1. Absolutely, which is why the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong to disregard the instructions of its employers and rewrite the marriage laws without authorization.

    3. It’s simple, really.

      Just like jury nullification. You were selected and you get paid to do a job. So, keep your questions of the law to yourself and do your job. Take your principled stances elsewhere, we’ve got a government to run! These peoples’ relationships aren’t going to publicly/privately validate themselves you know.

      1. Jurors are conscripts, not voluntary employees.

        Conscripts have no obligation to their “employer”, because they didn’t choose to be “employed”.

      2. Jury nullification is generally used to let people go free, not to treat them unequally on purpose.
        Wouldn’t if be fun if jury nullification was used to convict innocent black people, just because?

        1. She is treating everyone equally. No marriage licenses for anyone!

    4. If you don’t want to perform the normal and routine functions of the job, as defined by your employer:
      It’s simple, really.

      Does that apply to cops who are expected to arrest everyone they catch with illegal drugs?

  17. I can’t get to bent out of shape that she is ignoring a federal court order from a government I no longer recognize as legitimate. As far as I am concerned, SCOTUS is no longer a legitimate entity. A court that rules with contradictions (Private = public (Kelo), intra=inter (Raich) , states = not states (King v. burwell)) doesn’t deserve any recognition of legitimacy and its opinions are meaningless and should be disregarded when they violate a state’s right (to define marriage)

    As far as I am concerned, this opinion is equally illegitimate. Had it been couched in the full faith and credit clause (i.e.) requring a state to recognize another state’s definition of a marriage), I could accept it. SCOTUS’s arguments about marrying being a right are unconvincing to me. The State should enforce contracts and get out of the marriage business all together. I’d be willing to bet that this definition of marriage is a relatively recent sociological phenomenon (i.e that is, in the past it wan’t about love, but the distribution of property rights) And if your state want to enforce contracts between gays, good for you, and other states should recognize and enforce that contract per the full faith and credit clause.

    1. So I say, good for her. Fuck SCOTUS, We’ve long passed the threshold of being a nation of laws. I can’t get bent out of shape for someone ignoring the law when you have cops murdering people with virtual impunity. Cops taking people’s money with virtual impunity. SCOTUS show no indication that it is going to hold State’s accountable for these violations of the Constitution. You can shoot people, you can steal from people, but by God don’t stop the gays from getting married. Fuck that.

    2. So get nominated to the Supreme Court where your opinion will matter.

  18. The woman should be burned at the stake, to ensure her status as a martyr.

  19. Fuck anyone and everyone who works for the government.

  20. Writ of Mandamus from the KY SCT?

    /stray thought

    1. Writ of Mandamus

      Is that a Hawkwind song?

  21. Just like jury nullification. You were selected and you get paid to do a job.

    Oh, bullshit. This poor defenseless woman wasn’t snatched off the sidewalk to pass judgement on individuals’ morality. She was hired to push slips of paper across a counter in exchange for a paynment to the government

    1. This poor defenseless woman wasn’t snatched off the sidewalk to pass judgement on individuals’ morality. She was hired to push slips of paper across a counter in exchange for a paynment to the government

      Fine. She volunteered; collect funds for the government or we bring the force of law down on you. You win.

      Out of curiosity, do you have *anything* to do with the constituency or jurisdiction in question or just is this just your usual “libertarian” habit of ignoring ‘not my business’ and NAP to bring justice anywhere/everywhere it can be applied?

      1. Were we to follow the NAP, she wouldn’t have a government job in the first place.

  22. I wonder if Stephanie will feel the same way if/(when?) a company is formed and only hires gay/lesbian employess becasue “Private individuals should have the right to live out their faith, and that includes deciding whom to employ and with whom to do business” or does it fall under the “live out their values” clause?

    What someone does outside of work hours, so long as it does not hurt the business, shoud have no bearing on their initial or continued employement.

    1. I’d be fine with that. As, by the way, would be Ted Cruz.…..-thinks-ga

    2. How about a cop who is ordered by his police chief to arrest everyone he catches with drugs? Would Ms Slade maintain her “the law is the law, do your job” position in that case?

      1. She should since a police chief doing this may actually lead to some criminal justice reform in his area. If a police officer arrested everyone he caught with a joint whether they were white, black, rich, poor, etc. the voting public in that district might get so sick of it they might actually force their elected officials to start reforming their laws.

        Of course the difference between these situations is in one situation the government employee doing their job will lead to the lives of those citizens being irrevocably harmed for years to come due to loss of liberty and income. In the other situation the citizens would simply be facing drug charges and a possible prison sentence.

  23. Just one correction: This is about religious liberty, at least partly.

    The partly part is what makes the county clerk in the wrong here, exactly for the reasons that Slade mentions. Her right to live her life as her religion dictates is trumped by the fact that her job requires her to issue these licenses. No one has a right to a job, either in general or in a specific situation.

    1. Do you know for a fact that her job requires her to issue these licenses? I don’t know either way, I’m just wondering if you have evidence to back up your claim, or if you’ve just assumed it.

  24. I agree. The state should not be involved in marriage as it is a voluntary contract between two individuals.

  25. Yes, it’s important to remember that the state IS the entity that enforces rights, thus there is a vast gulf between a state employee discriminating in refusing to issue a marriage license, and a private business owner discriminating in refusing to bake a cake.

    The state employee is acting as an agent of the government. As a monopolist on the use of force, the government has a moral and legal obligation to treat all citizens equally. A private bakery owner doesn’t. The bakery owner can’t stop people from getting married, and isn’t the sole power authorized to license people to get married.

    Moreover, the state employee, like every other employee, isn’t entitled to a job. An individual has a right to participate in the market, for instance by offering cakes for sale, but isn’t entitled to have anyone buy what they are selling. By contrast, denying people the right to open a business is more akin to denying people the right to seek a job at all. It is like firing this person and barring them from offering their labor for sale to anyone.

  26. Her job should be abolished. There’s no reason to have a clerk in the first place.

    1. In my home state of Pennsylvania the organization is a little different. One office keeps track of all court proceedings, while another handles contracts between citizens (wills, deeds, marriage licenses). The government may want to keep a record of who’s married, but one doesn’t need prior permission to write a will or own property. In fact, many of those are aren’t filed until they need to be acted upon. Why should marriages, recorded in the same office, be any different? By the way, pa didn’t even issue any marriage licenses until 1885, although the state recognized private marriages in the century before that.

  27. “There is no right to draw a paycheck for a job you refuse to do” …………………..

    …………….unless you belong to a government employee union.

    Then it’s all good.

    1. They shoot voters, don’t they?

  28. Kim Davis believes that she has the right to establish her religion as the official religion in her county of Kentucky, and can forbid you to get married if you don’t comply with her interestingly individualized interpretation of that religion’s moral beliefs about marriage. The first amendment rather specifically disagrees with establishing religion.

    If she wants to argue in court that the state shouldn’t be putting her in the position of deciding which marriages to allow and which not, and that they should do that by not requiring marriage licenses, instead of by requiring her to issue them, that’d be a fun argument to watch. But for the moment, she’s in contempt of court.

  29. What the Bible and Constitution say:
    a. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. (Psalm 137:9)
    b. …the free exercise thereof. (1st Amendment)
    c. Section 1. All persons born or naturalized… (14th Amendment)
    What Christians in government read:
    a. Send men with guns to force women to reproduce.
    b. …the coercive exercise thereof.
    c. Section 1. Every ovum potentially fertilized…
    There was a time when Civil Service examinations included a literacy test.

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