Kim Davis is in jail for refusing to issue any marriage licenses as long as some of those marriage licenses might be issued to same-sex couples. This was a discretionary decision by Judge David Bunning of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Our Republic is not failing, the Constitution is not in tatters (over this), Kim Davis is not a hero, Judge Bunning is unreasonable, and nearly every person who has opined on this incredible waste of time has not read either relevant Court order that serves as the basis for the entire controversy.
Take a moment and really consider whether or not you have a full grasp of what happened here. Practically every word you have read has been from a mainstream or alternative media source. None of them seem to quote from either the relevant August 12. 2015 preliminary injunction ruling, or the September 3, 2015 contempt ruling. They quote statements from lawyers and interested parties. They quote each other. They quote the Bible, the Constitution, and Supreme Court rulings. Here, in all its splendor, glory, idiocy, what have you, are the two court orders:
August 12, 2015 Preliminary Injunction Order
September 3, 2015 Contempt Order
A Few Notes on Contempt of Court
Whether someone is found in contempt of court for a clear violation of a court order is not discretionary. The penalty imposed IS DISCRETIONARY. A party can be jailed, fined, ordered to perform or refrain from a task, a delay in enforcement can be imposed, or the party can be chastised. The most severe penalty is usually considered incarceration. Judge Bunning obviously leaped to the most severe penalty imaginable thereby causing a media firestorm, and a crisis where one need not exist. Kim Davis defied a court order. She should be held in contempt. The penalty of jail time is too severe. She has openly claimed she simply does not want her name to appear on the marriage licenses, and otherwise she will not prevent deputy clerks from issuing them.
The whole situation is stupid.
While both the Judge and the Clerk are being unreasonable, for some reason neither Kim Davis nor Judge Bunning can get past tiny hurdles. She shouldn’t be in jail, and the licenses should be issued on standard forms without her signature. If she wants to remain an elected Clerk, then her name will appear on the document. Judge Bunning has essentially ordered this as of September 3, 2015. As long as Deputy Clerks are complying with their duties, then Kim Davis should be allowed out of jail, immediately, as the the contempt order requires compliance with the August 12, 2015 Order. Either the Judge or the Clerk are being insincere about what will happen when Kim Davis is released.
If Kim Davis, in her official capacity, upon release will prevent her deputy clerks from issuing marriage licenses that have Kim Davis’ name on them in any capacity, then she should probably be held in contempt and should be jailed. If Kim Davis is going to otherwise perform her ministerial duties upon release, and otherwise not interfere with Deputy Clerks performing ministerial duties that she finds objectionable, then the Judge is being unreasonable.
To know who is being the most unreasonable we need to see the transcript from September 3, 2015 (which is not available online) and we need to stop accepting the emotional statements of the main stream and alternative media as if they are some sort of reasoned analysis. Both the Judge and the Clerk are competing to make the worst decisions in this controversy.