Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch put together a brief list―and thank him, since that means you don’t have to do it yourself―of strange arguments offered in support of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who asserts her ad hoc religion entitles her, as an equally protected constitutional right, to decide who is entitled to their equally protected constitutional rights.
The list itself is pretty straightforward except for its unbelievability; yet here we are, and this is real:
(1) God’s law trumps U.S. law
(2) Davis was elected before Obergefell, so she’s exempt
(3) Davis is the only clerk obeying the law
(4) Gays can just drive to another county
(5) Anti-religious test for office
While it is true that these are all nonsensical, we might take a moment to consider that first, reminding of two points: Insurrection and bad attorneys.
1) God’s law trumps U.S. law
Rena Lindevaldsen, a Liberty Counsel attorney, offered insights into the group’s legal thinking when she delivered a lecture to the Liberty University School of Law, which named Lindevaldsen its interim dean after Staver decided to dedicate more time to his work at Liberty Counsel.
Lindevaldsen told students in a speech entitled, “Do Government Officials Have Authority to Impose Their Morals on Others?,” that any law that is not “consistent with Scripture” — or, more accurately, their interpretation of scripture — is no law at all, and therefore, officials are obligated to break such laws since “civil government only has the authority that God has established.”
With this reasoning, Liberty Counsel thinks that officials can impose their morals on others as long as they are acting according to their understanding of the Bible, and therefore don’t need to respect the legalization of same-sex marriage because its unbiblical. “Whether it’s zoning or taxes or marriage or abortion, in those issues, government doesn’t have authority to say that these things are appropriate because they’re contrary to Scripture,” she said.
In a case involving a child custody dispute between a self-identified “ex-gay” and her former lesbian partner, Liberty Counsel similarly advised their client to break a court-approved custody agreement because, after all, God’s law is superior.
Staver said that Davis should not follow the Obergefell decision as it would violate her oath of office, and that oath requires her to “not act in contradiction to the moral law of God.” He also told other officials not to respect the ruling because it “directly conflicts with higher law.” As the judge in Davis’ case noted, such arguments would allow Roman Catholic clerks to deny a marriage license to a previously divorced person because the Catholic Church proscribes divorce.
The question of insurrection is easily enough observed: They proclaim allegiance to another law that, in turn, they claim, overrules the supreme law of the land.
The question of bad attorneys, largely packaged in a suggestion of bad faith, arises in the form of wondering why an attorney might be advising a client to specifically break the law.
This is Liberty Counsel.
Tashman, Brian. “Five Bizarre Arguments Kim Davis’ Supporters Have Used To Defend Her Lawbreaking”. Right Wing Watch. 4 September 2015.