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Supreme Court allows gay couple’s lawsuit against Christian clerk

by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 10/05/20, 04:56 pm

WASHINGTON—Former Rowan County, Ky., clerk Kim Davis spent five days in jail in 2015 for declining to issue a marriage licenses to same-sex couples due to her Christian beliefs. The couples ultimately received their licenses but sued Davis for unspecified damages. A federal appeals court ruled the lawsuit could move forward, and the Supreme Court on Monday rejected Davis’ appeal.

What does that mean for Davis? She argued that qualified immunity, which protects government officials from civil liability in certain circumstances, should shield her from the couples’ lawsuit—a claim the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected last year. The Supreme Court let the decision stand, so the suit goes back to a federal trial judge for continued litigation. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito agreed with the decision not to take the case but only because the case did not “cleanly present” questions about the scope of religious liberty under the court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. “Obergefell enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots,” Thomas wrote in a four-page statement. Alito and Thomas dissented from the Obergefell ruling, which forced states to legalize same-sex marriage.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read editor in chief Marvin Olasky’s 2015 analysis of Davis’ case.


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Kyle Ziemnick

Kyle is a WORLD Digital news reporter. He is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Kyle resides in Purcellville, Va. Follow him on Twitter @kylezim25.

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