Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk, was released from jail on September 8, 2015. She was released after spending five nights behind bars.
Why was she there in the first place?
Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, defying orders from a federal court judge. The judge based his order on the recent Supreme Court decision that stated that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
Davis broke no law passed by the legislature in Kentucky. Davis broke no law passed by Congress. Davis was in violation of no law.
Sending Davis to jail was an act of tyranny.
The Supreme Court found a non-existent right in the Constitution that mandated states to recognize same-sex unions. Even if such a right exists — which it does not — the Court’s role is not to write law. It can only tell the country what the law is. There was no law that Kim Davis violated.
The judge who sent Davis to prison violated the law. In fact, the law that was violated is the supreme law of the land. The First Amendment of the Constitution protects religious liberty. Davis would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because to do so would violate her religious beliefs. There is no provision of the Constitution that explicitly compels states to recognize same-sex unions. There is, however, a provision that guarantees that the state may not prohibit the free exercise of religion.
The following words are part of the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Freely exercising religion is not simply going to church or praying at home. Religion is the way one leads one’s life. No federal judge has the authority to prohibit a U.S. citizen from living that citizen’s Christian faith.
Kim Davis had lived her life as a Christian prior to the unfortunate Supreme Court decision in June. The idea that her leading that life is now unlawful because the Court decided to inflict a new definition of marriage on the country is shocking. This new definition of marriage, which was decided by five lawyers in black robes, is an understanding of marriage that is alien to the American culture. One should not have to set aside a right protected by the First Amendment to accommodate the Supreme Court’s ill-advised decision.
It is no accident that the freedom of religion is not only in the First Amendment, it is the first right protected by the First Amendment. That right comes before the freedom to assemble, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press. A judge jailing a citizen for living one’s religious faith is right in the strike zone of what the framers of the amendment feared. That we could have the federal government incarcerating an individual for not wanting to violate her conscience would anger the framers; it should also anger us.
This raises a fundamental question. Does America have a unique culture? If so, should that culture be respected and protected?
The United States was settled and founded by a people who largely belonged to some denomination of Christianity. Our culture and values come from, at least in part, from this religious heritage. The Reluctant Conservative believes that the United States is a Christian nation with religious freedom. The Constitution of the United States should not be interpreted in such a way as to betray the nation’s religious heritage. No court has the authority to mandate that our religious culture should be subordinated to make way for some novel idea that the majority of the country rejected only a few years ago.
Judicial tyranny must be rejected. The people must openly speak out about this. If not, it will embolden members of the judicial branch of government to continue to act as monarchs. To allow this to happen would mean that those who fought and died to found the nation and those who fought and died to preserve it, fought and died in vain.