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BREAKING: Supreme Court DENIES stay in case involving Rowan County clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses

Marriage Equality Trials

Kentucky state sealThe U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay sought by the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky, who is currently refusing to issue marriage licenses.

There appears to be no noted dissent.

The order means that she must issue marriage licenses or possibly face sanctions. It has been reported previously that she is already facing some legal consequences from her refusal.


  • 1. jpmassar  |  August 31, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Going to cupboard. Taking out the popcorn.

  • 2. davepCA  |  August 31, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    …. and some confetti and streamers.

  • 3. VIRick  |  August 31, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Yay for popcorn, confetti, streamers,– and chocolate chip cookies!!

    Oh,– and a husband to marry!!!

  • 4. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 12:34 am

    get in line buster

  • 5. AndresM11  |  September 1, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Where does this line end? I love popcorn, choco chip cookies and I'm looking forward to finding the suitable "candidate" for marriage 😛

  • 6. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 9:09 am

    right behind rick.

  • 7. AndresM11  |  September 1, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Well… that's a really tempting offer hahaha right behind Rick or maybe right ahead of the prince of Minas Tirith

  • 8. F_Young  |  September 1, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Looking for a husband too, preferably a Canadian.

    I say Canadian because I need to stay in Canada for at least 6 months a year to keep my medicare, and I wouldn't want to subject a non-Canadian to the misery of winter.

    On the other hand, if I could get the same coverage in his country by marrying a non-Canadian, goodbye Canada!

  • 9. F_Young  |  August 31, 2015 at 4:55 pm


  • 10. LK2013  |  August 31, 2015 at 4:59 pm


  • 11. guitaristbl  |  August 31, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    It's going to get good from now on 🙂

    Btw not even Scalia or Thomas disagreed strongly enough (if they disagreed at all) to have their dissents recorded. That should send a message to all clerk who aspire to follow the steps of Davis.

  • 12. 1grod  |  September 1, 2015 at 4:07 am

    Guitar: Not as Thomas and Scalia [ in the minority] did on Feb 09 2015 in the temporary stay of Southern District Judge Granade's favorable decision in case Searcy v Strange: . When is the 11th Circuit going to rule in the class action case: Strawser v Strange? If favorable, as anticipated, this would enable Judge Granade to issue a final judgement – which would put the 11 counties under increased pressure to issue licenses to straight and non straight couples requesting licenses. This is especially the case imo with Autauga as in February and immediately after Obergefell marriage licenses were issued.

  • 13. sfbob  |  August 31, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    There's also a new suit against her citing a violation of the Establishment Clause. Seems appropriate to add that (as well as the now-fully-unstayed injunction against her) to the charges connected with the state-level misconduct case against her.

  • 14. LK2013  |  August 31, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    It's over. Time for her to go to JAIL!

  • 15. Jaesun100  |  August 31, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I'm guessing she isn't extending her office hours tonight ?

  • 16. DeadHead  |  August 31, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    “The SCOTUS order was not a final ruling on Davis’s argument that her right to freedom of conscience should give her an exemption from having any part in the licensing process that would lead to same-sex marriages. She has an appeal on that question now pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. … Davis will be free, once the Sixth Circuit acts on her pending appeal, to try to return to the Supreme Court to get a decision settling her constitutional claim. In the meantime, though, she confronts a choice that she and her lawyers had argued amounted to “trampling” on her rights of conscience.” Lyle Denniston SCOTUSBlog reports at

    Now we have to wait and see how THAT plays out on the 6th Circuit Appeals Court…

  • 17. jjcpelayojr  |  August 31, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I kept getting bothered by this "Right of Conscience" phrase that I keep seeing these lawyers throw about and I realized it was actually something George W. Bush enacted. How is this law remaining unchallenged due to Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution?

    At first I thought it was some newly formed right by lawyers like an "unborn child's bonding right".

    – Jesse

  • 18. Swifty819  |  August 31, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    It was long since repealed. See

  • 19. DeadHead  |  September 1, 2015 at 1:31 am

    Another Bush Jr law I am so glad Obama repealed this. Another reminder why we must get get the Senate back and elect another Democrat for President in 2016. Otherwise we may see more "Right of Conscience" laws being passed if that doesn't happen.

  • 20. jjcpelayojr  |  September 1, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks Swifty. So, it really is just some sort of newly formed right that's vaguely holding on to some sort of credibility derived from the 1st amendment.


  • 21. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 12:54 am

    Doesn't the ACLU case against her need Final Judgement from Judge Bunning? So far, I beleive, Bunning has only granted the plaintiffs an extraordinary preliminary injunction. But, both Bunning and the 6th circuit panel that heard her appeal of the preliminary injunction have both indicated that she is unlikely to succeed in her defense and has little to no chance on appeal. Will Davis and Liberty Council continue their defense anyway… as well as her suit against the governor? On appeal of final judgement, would the same panel of the sixth hear her appeal or would another random panel be selected… one that could contain Sutton and or Cook? Even if that were to happen and a Sutton or Cook reversed Bunning, today's action at SCOTUS indicates that SCOTUS would overrule a sixth circuit siding with Davis.

    The news out of Rowan county later this morning should be quite interesting indeed. I'll have to get out the popcorn maker as well. Next on the list is Casey Davis of Casey County.

  • 22. VIRick  |  September 1, 2015 at 1:27 am

    Tony, wait! Judge Bunning has ruled. He issued a preliminary injunction. That decision has been appealed to the 6th Circuit Court. The substantive matter is there, before the 6th Circuit Court. Once they've rendered a decision, and refer the matter back to the district court, Judge Bunning can then issue his final judgment. Final judgment is final. The case can not be appealed second time.

    Separate issue. Judge Bunning refused to extend his stay beyond 31 August 2015. The 6th Circuit Court refused to grant/extend the stay. And so did the Supreme Court. It is now 1 September 2015.

    However, this case, "Miller v. Davis," also includes two other matters. The plaintiffs have requested that the case be up-graded to class-action status, to include all present and future potential applicants. Judge Bunning has not ruled on that. Davis has also counter-sued Kentucky's Governor and Kentucky's State Librarian. Judge Bunning has placed that side-issue on hold, pending the outcome of the main appeal. Liberty Counsel has also appealed that decision of placing this useless side-issue on hold.

    In the meantime, another couple, Smith and Yates, have also filed suit against her in federal court. This new case has also been referred to Judge Bunning. In addition, based on a complaint filed by Smith and Yates, Rowan County itself has referred the matter of her official misconduct to Kentucky's Attorney-General for disciplinary action.

  • 23. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 2:00 am

    That's what I'm saying Rick. Don't we need Final Judgement from Bunning? I thought the sixth just ruled on only the stay of the preliminary injunction not on the merits? Are you saying that the denial of her request for a stay on the preliminary injunction while she persues a defense on the merits also constitute a final word on merits of the underlying case? Can Davis now appeal the verdict to SCOTUS? SCOTUS just and only denied her request for a stay… correct me if I'm wrong. I thought she still needs to loose on the merits, not just the preliminary injunction, at the district and then at the 6th b4 she can appeal to SCOTUS for cert.

    I think Davis' suit against the governor is a separate suit, not a counter suit as the Governor is not suing her… no? Miller v Davis would be completely separate from Davis v Beshear would it not? Or am I wrong?

    It's my understanding that a "preliminary injunction" is just that, preliminary (extraordinary) relief for the plantiff until final judgement of the district court and if and while the defendant persues a circuit court appeal of the preliminary merits judgement. Isn't that what happened in Texas? The plantiff won a preliminary injunction against the state, but the judge's decision was stayed due to appeal at the 5th and lack of a final Judgement until after Obergefell?

  • 24. VIRick  |  September 1, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Judge Bunning's ruling was a ruling on the merits, and that ruling has been appealed to the 6th Circuit Court. This ruling on the merits was in the form of a preliminary injunction which he can finalize later as a judicial formality, once the case is returned to him, after the 6th Circuit Court rules that she doesn't have a leg to stand on.

    Your latter question is on-target. I said "counter-sued," which would indeed make it a separate case, but it's actually a confused/confusing third-party maneuver wherein which her legal-eagles are attempting to turn her into the defenseless "victim" of the evil governor and the wicked state librarian. Judge Bunning was wise to place that side-mess on hold.

  • 25. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Interesting. What do you mean, "that ruling has been appealed to the sixth"? Does the sixth have a second appeal still pending before it? I haven't heard of that appeal. They did say in denying her request for an extended stay that she has no or little chance of prevailing. I thought they were saying she has little chance of prevailing at the court below, but you're saying the panel was referring to a concurrent appeal b4 them on a final ruling from the court below? Why would Bunning call it a "preliminary injunction" if it is in fact his final decision?

    A preliminary injunction, in equity, is an injunction entered by a court prior to a final determination of the merits of a legal case, in order to restrain a party from going ahead with a course of conduct or compelling a party to continue with a course of conduct until the case has been decided.

    Wasn't the matter b4 the sixth and SCOTUS regarding a prelinary injunction? Or No?

  • 26. VIRick  |  September 1, 2015 at 2:42 am

    Judges do that whenever they smell likely obfuscation and/or the possibility/probability of an appeal. Off-hand, just on the question of marriage equality, I can think of 3 other district court judges who ruled on the merits by issuing preliminary injunctions, and who are still waiting to issue their final judgments because the cases in question were appealed, and have yet to be returned to them. They are Judge Hinkle in Florida, Judge Granade in Alabama, and Judge Bataillon in Nebraska.

  • 27. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Those cases had a determination on the merits as well as a preliminary injunction. An appeal for certiorari to SCOTUS can only be on an appeal of determination of Merits, not a preliminary injunction. Judge Walkers preliminary injunction was stayed for 3 years… it was the merits that were granted certiorari not Walkers injunction. The appeal to remove the stay of his injunction was denied by SCOTUS early on, but they didn't grant Cert to the plaintiffs wish to eliminate the stay. SCOTUS only granted cert after the defendants lost at the district and then at the circuit court. And even then, they decided they erred in taking the case as the Yeson8 proponents had no standing. You can't ask SCOTUS to reverse a court ruling that hasn't already been officially decided below, and where the agrieved party has only been granted preliminary relief. Otherwise, they'd be a court of original jurisdiction or be in the business of giving advisory opinions.

  • 28. aiislander  |  August 31, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    While this was inevitably the outcome of this utterly groundless petition, everyone SHOULD realize of course, that the entire objective of Liberty Counsel's campaign has always been to have a media event with "poor faithful good Christian woman" being dragged off to prison in matching chrome steel bracelets, all because of the big bad gays? Of course hopefully media managed so that no mention is made of her three divorces and four marriages. Liberty knew all along they had zero chance of prevailing. That was never their goal.

    Let's hope that the authorities nab her in the middle of the night away from the spotlight with no press and thus no money shot.

  • 29. Bruno71  |  August 31, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    While that's all likely true, the fact of the matter is that this media campaign of theirs has drawn only small crowds to protests, and couldn't even get a written dissent from Scalia or Thomas regarding the stay. Fodder for the trough, but the other barnyard animals couldn't give a hoot.

  • 30. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 1:15 am

    I haven't seen ANY of the major network or cable news outlets make this a major or feature news story. At most it's only been a back burner or 20 second news update on Major Broadcast Networks… likely Cable too. Perhaps FOX has been featuring the Rowan Co. Story, I don't know, I couldn't be paid to watch FOX "News". Mostly it seems to be mentioned in the wire service and religious and gay news outlets. With all the 2016 campaign news and mass shootings going on, Davis and Rowan County and Company will soon be buried and forgotten. It won't even make the footnotes of history.

    The Cathloic Officials and Evangelikooks are going to be in a very nasty mood for a very long time, as they desperately try to figure out how to put the tooth paste back in the tube.

  • 31. Elihu_Bystander  |  September 1, 2015 at 4:33 am

    The action of denying the stay by the Supreme Court was covered by NPR news on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED last evening.

  • 32. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 5:36 am

    I consider NPR to be more esoteric than main stream news. Also, all news outlets will give at least minimal coverage to Supreme Court actions. Most of the Network news outlets are just regurgitating articles from the AP. ….that i've seen.

  • 33. VIRick  |  August 31, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 31 August 2015, in "Rolando v. Fox," the 9th Circuit Court appeal of the Montana marriage case, another hopeless appeal has been formally wrapped up.

    The order granting the State of Montana's motion to dismiss the appeal has been granted in what appears to be one of the most succinct rulings yet:

    "ORDER: Appeal dismissed. Copy of this order to district court will serve as mandate."

    Next up: the proceedings on attorneys fees, a matter which had been postponed until the appeal was finalized.

  • 34. VIRick  |  August 31, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Per Equality Case Files, an up-date of sorts on the still-pending Georgia case, "Inniss v. Aderhold:"

    Sometime in August, the parties filed status reports with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, per an earlier order requiring this report. The state Defendants want to see the case dismissed as moot. The Plaintiffs want their petition for permission to appeal granted, the district court ruling vacated, and the case sent back to the district court for proceedings consistent with "Obergefell."

    To date, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals hasn't taken any action, but at least we're reminded of the current status.

  • 35. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 1:36 am

    On a tangent note…

    Now that Ben Carson is rising in the polls, I wonder if he's going to make the tactical error of weighting down his campaign and become the champion of reversing Obergefell or will he not fall for that trap. If he's smart, he'll take after Trump and say that the (gay marriage) train has left the station and it's not a focal point of his campaign. If he's only going to pander to the Evangelikooks (I'm going to copyright that term btw), well his campaign will follow the Titanic. I can't wait till Super Tuesday, when Carson, Huxterby, Santorum, and probably Walker's campaigns are all torpedoed by their obsession with reversing gay marriage (their term) and laying at the bottom of the sea.

  • 36. Elihu_Bystander  |  September 1, 2015 at 4:40 am

    Carson has already signed the NOM anti-marriage equality pledge as noted in a previous post on this site.

  • 37. guitaristbl  |  September 1, 2015 at 5:19 am

    Carson will sink his campaign by being obsessed with marriage, Trump will sink his campaign if he is chosen as candidate by losing the hispanic vote and it goes on. As a foreigner I am honestly befuddled by ths fact that all this extremist psychopaths of the GOP primaries are potential presidents of such an influential nation rather than in a clinic for psychiatric evaluation.

  • 38. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I agree. So who does that leave as the possible republican nominee? Rubio? Cruz is another that's obsessed with social issues, particularly anti gay social issues.

  • 39. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Less than an hour b4 normal opening hour at Rowan County Clerks Office 😀

    Those held in civil contempt generally must be given notice of the contempt sanctions and an opportunity to be heard, but usually are not guaranteed a jury trial. Also, their contempt does not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, while criminal contempt charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, criminal contempt involves a specified sentence (jail and/or fine), while civil contempt sanctions can be more indefinite, lasting until either the underlying case is resolved or the party in contempt complies with the court order. – See more at:

    Will Kimmy be eating crow or trying on orange jump suits where she'll grow old and gray? Stay Tuned boys and girls!

  • 40. Elihu_Bystander  |  September 1, 2015 at 4:58 am

    "Wasn't the matter b4 the sixth and SCOTUS regarding a preli[mi]nary injunction? Or No?"

    No, it was not. It was only about a stay pending appeal of the preliminary injunction to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. That appeal of the preliminary injunction is still ongoing in the 6th Circuit.
    In fact, there is another appeal to the 6th Circuit concerning the class action status of this case. This has become a very complex case. There will be a lot of back and fourth before this is over. In the meantime, Pam Davis will have to start issuing marriage licenses today or risk being in contempt of court. If she remains defiant, that will start a entirely new set of due process actions.

    Your going to have to make a lot of popcorn just for the contempt proceedings alone.

    There is a previous blog entry on this case in another thread that explained the complex multiple proceedings of this case that are going on in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. They are so complex that even the 6th Circuit sua sponte stayed indefinitely some of the appeals until others in this case could be heard on the merits first.

  • 41. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Kentucky clerk's office denies marriage license to gay couples despite US Supreme Court Ruling. AP reports

    Wow. She's done it again! Still denying licenses to gay couples. Time to haul her off and throw away the key.

    Details still coming in.

    She is saying she is "not issuing marriage licences, today…under god's authority".

  • 42. DeadHead  |  September 1, 2015 at 5:50 am

    When Davis emerged, she declared that she was not issuing any licenses. “Under whose authority?” she was asked. “Under God’s authority,” she said.

  • 43. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 5:53 am

    So, she does not follow the laws of her country and state. Kim Davis is a law unto herself. Lets see how well that works out for her in the end.

    Let the fundraising on her behalf begin. This is where she's going to make out like a bandit…unfortunately.

  • 44. DeadHead  |  September 1, 2015 at 6:16 am

    If they start fining her maybe there are some legal maneuvers that can be done to freeze any funds she receives. I also read somewhere that if she is hauled off to jail she still will hold office and the only way to remove her is impeachment by the KY legislators but many pundits think that is unlikely to happen anytime in the near future.

  • 45. DeadHead  |  September 1, 2015 at 6:21 am

    These extremists are just like ISIS and Taliban they are unable to function in a pluralistic civil society or law and justice, believing the world has to be under the heel of their religion.

  • 46. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Now I wonder, if all six of her deputy clerks, if they choose to also refuse marriage licences could be held in contempt of court. Didn't Bunning rule that it was the office of the clerk as well as Davis personally who was subject to his injunction? If and when she is put in jail, then arguably the couples should be able to go to the senior judge and ask him to issue marriage license. It would be a travesty if Davis is fined and jailed, but her deputys are allowed to continue to deny licenses and the couples must sue each one individually.

  • 47. DJSNOLA  |  September 1, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Just hit her in the pocketbook where it really hurts. Last thing we want to do is give her a platform to make it seem like shes some martyr. Fine the crap out of her personally.

  • 48. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Fining won't persuade her, as her supporters and church will just pay the fines for her. She needs to be incarcerated until she complies or until the end of her term, which is 3 or 4 years from now. If Liberty council advises her to defy the court order, perhaps the court can fine them daily too.

    She could stand a few months on bread and water.

  • 49. DeadHead  |  September 1, 2015 at 9:35 am

    If the attorney advised her to defy ANY courts' orders I'm also wondering if the judge can levy any type of fines or sanctions against them as well. Can the attorney(s) be disbarred from the state they are licensed in for advising a client to defy a court order?

  • 50. Rick55845  |  September 1, 2015 at 6:59 am

    I don't have the original preliminary injunction handy, but from the 6th Circuit's denial of Davis' stay request, I think it is only the holder of the office of Rowan County Clerk that the injunction applies to.

    "The injunction operates not against Davis personally, but against the holder of her office of Rowan County Clerk."

    So I don't think anyone else who works under her can be held in contempt. Regardless of their personal feelings on the matter, they are doing what their boss, the holder of the office of Rowan County Clerk, tells them to do.

  • 51. LK2013  |  September 1, 2015 at 8:04 am

    What exactly needs to happen to get Davis out of office? If she were sick, who would perform her duties? She is in flagrant violation of the law – how can Kentucky let her stay in office even one more day? What is the friggin' law there? Does she get to stay in office even with charges against her? Who would have the authority to suspend her or remove her?

  • 52. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 9:15 am

    The legislature and possibly the electorate if KY provides them with a mechanism for a recall.

  • 53. Randolph_Finder  |  September 1, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Don't think Kentucky has recall. Whether you could get an impeachment through the KY Legislature is a different story.

  • 54. guitaristbl  |  September 1, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Posted in the other thread already

  • 55. Tony MinasTirith  |  September 1, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Ooops! My bad. I fell asleep. I always forget to check if there is a new thread.

  • 56. Elihu_Bystander  |  September 1, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Judge David Bunning has ordered a hearing on Thursday for contempt of court of Clerk Pam Davis and all of her deputy clerks.

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