The Oath Keepers are on their way to Kentucky to protect Kim Davis from United States District Court Judge David Bunning. When he released her from jail on Tuesday, he ordered her not to interfere with her deputy clerks issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. She said she would not do anything that would violate her conscience. She would be in compliance with his order if she does not do anything when a deputy clerk issues a marriage license to a same sex couple. Only she knows whether standing by and not doing anything, if a deputy clerk issues a license, would violate her conscience and cause her to act.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, explains why he believes his group of armed former cops and military veterans should go to Rowan County to protect her. Raw Story reports,
In a press release published on their website, the group says they have been in contact with Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, and are acting because Judge David Bunning “grossly overstepped his bounds and violated Mrs Davis’ due process rights, and in particular her right to a jury trial.”
Rhodes does not know what he is talking about. Davis did not have a right to a jury trial or any sort of trial because he held her in contempt for refusing to comply with his order to issue marriage licenses. She was accorded due process of law because she was given an opportunity to explain why she refused to issue the licenses pursuant to Obergefell v. Hodges and she was permitted to appeal his decision rejecting her argument to the Sixth Circuit and to the United States Supreme Court. After she lost those appeals and still refused to issue the licenses, he ordered her to show cause why he should not hold her in contempt of court. He held her in contempt when she presented the same lame losing argument. Freedom of religion is not a license for an elected official to discriminate against others in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws.
He ordered her to jail until she or her deputy clerks issued the marriage licenses that the plaintiff couples had requested. He released her after those licenses were issued.
This situation is not complicated. If another same-sex couple applies for a marriage license and she refuses to permit her deputy clerks to issue them a license, she can reasonably expect Judge Bunning will again order her to appear in court to show cause why he should not hold her in contempt. If she offers the same lame excuse, he will order her back to jail until the license is issued. That is the nature of civil contempt and that is why judges and lawyers say that the person held in contempt has the key to the jailhouse door.
Rhodes and company want to ride to her rescue with AK47s and recreate a Bundy ranch standoff scenario. They would be better served if they put down their guns and read up on civil contempt.