What’s next for Kim Davis? Judge says she can’t withhold marriage licenses – CNN
(CNN)Kim Davis is a free woman now, but what will she do when she returns to work?
Could she end up behind bars again?
The Kentucky clerk, who was held in contempt of court for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, was released with a caveat she may not be willing to accept.
When U.S. District Judge David Bunning released Davis from jail on Tuesday — five days after he sent her there — he said he was satisfied that her deputies had fulfilled their obligations in her absence.
But Bunning’s new order says Davis cannot interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.
That means Davis could find herself behind bars again if she does anything to prevent the marriages from taking place, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.
“If Ms. Davis stops them from issuing licenses, then we are right back where we started,” Toobin said. “And Judge Bunning has made it quite clear, he will lock her back up.”
Davis, who said issuing the licenses would violate her conscience and go against her religion, plans to return to work in Rowan County this week and won’t resign from her post, attorney Mat Staver said. Asked by a reporter whether her stay in jail was worth it, Davis smiled and nodded.
But she didn’t speak directly about the case, and the key question remains unanswered: When she goes back to work, what will she do when she gets there?
‘Just keep pressing’
Emotions flowed as Davis stepped out of jail.
First she broke down in tears, then beamed as she stood before a cheering crowd.
“Thank you all so much. I love you all so very much,” she said. “I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people. We serve a living God who knows exactly where each and every one of us is at.”
The clerk urged her supporters not to give in.
“Just keep on pressing. Don’t let down, because (God) is here.”
At rally, Republican presidential hopeful takes center stage
The case has become a political lightning rod, drawing attention from several Republican presidential hopefuls, even though Davis is a Democrat.
Huckabee said he had a message for the judge who sent Davis to jail.
“If you have to put someone in jail, I volunteer to go,” Huckabee said. “Let me go. Lock me up if you think that’s how freedom is best served.”.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also traveled to Kentucky to meet with Davis, but he was not part of the pro-Davis rally that appeared on live TV.
‘She’s not going to violate her conscience’
Davis previously said she will not authorize her office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if her name remains on the certificate.
Bunning’s order makes no mention of revising the licenses.
One of Davis’ attorneys said Bunning hasn’t resolved anything.
“We’ve asked for a simple solution — get her name and authority off the certificate. The judge could order that,” Staver said.
Staver didn’t directly answer questions about whether Davis would stop same-sex couples in her county from getting marriage licenses when she returns to work.
“She loves God, she loves people, she loves her work and she will not betray any of those three,” Staver said. “She’ll do her job good. She’ll serve the people … and she’ll also be loyal to God, and she’s not going to violate her conscience.”
Davis’ attorneys: Kentucky religious freedom law supports her
Davis’ legal team has filed appeals to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“If (Davis’ deputies) can issue licenses under someone else’s authority … Kim Davis would not stand in the way of that,” one of her attorneys, Roger Gannam, told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday.
Davis’ legal team on Monday asked the appeals court for an injunction that would prompt Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to remove her name from the licenses, something her attorneys say Beshear can do through an executive order.
Some of Davis’ opponents say she could resign if she feels she can’t issue licenses to same-sex couples.
But Davis should not have to resign or be jailed, Gannam said, because “accommodation of religious conscience is the law in Kentucky, including for elected officials.”
Gannam cited Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 2013 law prohibits the state government from substantially burdening a person’s freedom of religion unless the government both proves it has a compelling interest in doing so and has used the least restrictive means to do it.
“It’s the duty of the Kentucky government to accommodate that, and they very easily could do so,” Gannam said. “Gov. Beshear is the one who should do his job or resign.”
Governor: No special session
Beshear’s office said Monday he wouldn’t respond to news of the appeals, saying the case was a “matter between her and the courts.”
The state legislature also could pass a law removing clerks’ names from the licenses, but it won’t be in session until January.
Beshear said the legislature can do as it wishes, but he won’t call lawmakers for a special session to deal with the issue, adding that doing so would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.”