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What SCOTUS rejecting the Kim Davis case could mean for gay marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear the case of a county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. One justice’s explanation is fiery.

What SCOTUS rejecting the Kim Davis case could mean for gay marriage
[Photo: Joe Ravi/Wikimedia Commons]

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of the now-former Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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In 2015, Kim Davis of Rowan County cited her religious beliefs as the reason why she wouldn’t process the licenses. She was later briefly jailed.

The Davis case drew the national spotlight, in part because of its timing. That was the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the 14th Amendment guarantees gay and lesbian couples the same right to marry that heterosexual couples have.

The decision was 5-4 and two of those opposing it were justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

In today’s rejection announcement, Thomas wrote a scathing attack on that landmark case, joined by Alito. He said that right was nowhere in the text of the 14th Amendment and that by ruling, the court “bypassed [the] democratic process,” which should be legislation.

“Davis may have been one of the first victims of this Court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision but she will not be the last,” Thomas wrote, adding that the ruling let courts and governments deem people like Davis “bigots.”

The question of gay rights versus what Thomas called religious liberty is resurfacing at a key point in the court’s history. The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg last month has left a vacancy on the bench that President Donald Trump and his GOP allies are rushing to fill in an effort to ensure a conservative majority for decades to come.

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Within two weeks, Trump had nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. A former Notre Dame Law School professor and a devout Catholic, she is known for her conservative views.

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