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Case Name Miller v. Davis PB-KY-0006
Docket / Court 0:15-cv-00044-DLB ( E.D. Ky. )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On July 2, 2015, plaintiffs -- two same sex couples -- filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Kentucky, asked the court for both injunctive and ... read more >
On July 2, 2015, plaintiffs -- two same sex couples -- filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Kentucky, asked the court for both injunctive and declaratory relief, alleging that Davis's refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples violated their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses and the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The plaintiffs also sought class action certification for all persons similarly situated. The case was assigned to United States District Judge David Bunning.

This case is a direct result of a recent Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same sex couples had a fundamental right to marry. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015). Immediately after Obergefell, the Governor of Kentucky had explicitly instructed all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. So once this case was filed, Davis filed a third party complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Governor and State Librarian of Kentucky alleging that the Governor's mandate to issue marriage licenses violated her right to religious conscience under the First Amendment.

Arguments in the District Court centered on whether Ms. Davis, as an elected official, had a right to deny same sex marriage licenses as a matter of religious liberty. Judge Bunning found that the instruction by the Governor to issue same-sex marriage licenses was facially neutral as to its implication on any particular religion. The Court therefore found (applying a rational basis test) that the Governor's goal was simply to ensure that the activities of the State of Kentucky were consistent with the jurisprudence of the U.S. Supreme Court. Ms. Davis, therefore, had no relevant protected religious liberty interest.

As a result of this reasoning, on August 12, 2015, Judge Bunning issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the defendant from continuing to refuse marriage licenses to same sex couples. 123 F. Supp. 3d 924 (E.D. Ky. 2015). Davis immediately appealed to the Sixth Circuit. The injunction was temporarily suspended by the District Court until being reinstated on August 31, 2015 when the Sixth Circuit declined to hear the appeal on an emergency basis.

Nonetheless, Davis continued to refuse marriage licenses to same sex couples. After a hearing on September 3, 2015, she was held in contempt of court, and jailed for civil contempt until September 8, 2015, at which time she was released from jail provided that she not interfere with the ongoing issuance of marriage licenses by Rowan County's deputy clerks.

Davis appealed. She also sought an injunction against the Kentucky government prohibiting state authorities from directing her to authorize the issuance of marriage licenses while her appeal was pending at the Sixth Circuit. On September 11, 2015, the court (Judge David L. Bunning) denied Davis's request. 2015 WL 9461520 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 11, 2015). Davis also asked the Sixth Circuit to stay the plaintiffs' injunction against her pending her appeal. On September 17, 2015, the Sixth Circuit denied her request. Finally, Davis asked for an emergency stay of the injunction against her. The district denied this request and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. 2015 WL 9460311 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 23, 2015).

The Sixth Circuit held oral argument on Davis's appeal on January 20, 2016, but no decision has been issued yet.

When Davis had returned to work, after she was released from jail, she changed the forms that they used to issue marriage licenses. Worried that these forms would not be considered valid, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce the injunction against Davis and require her to use the old forms. However, on February 9, 2016, the district court denied the plaintiffs' request as moot because the forms were valid and same-sex marriage licenses were being issued by the office.

As of April 2, 2016, litigation in the district court and the Sixth Circuit is ongoing.

Sarah Prout - 09/17/2015
Jessica Kincaid - 04/02/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
State law
Defendant(s) Kentucky
Kim Davis
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are same sex and different sex couples who have sought and have been denied marriage licenses in Rowan County, Kentucky.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
None yet
Source of Relief Litigation
None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States Government says L.A. Gay Couple’s 1975 Marriage is Valid
The Pride L.A.
Written: Jun. 07, 2016
By: Troy Masters
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
15-cv-00044-DLB (E.D. Ky.) 03/31/2016
PB-KY-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [Proposed Class Action] 07/02/2015
PB-KY-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Preliminary Injunction 07/02/2015
PB-KY-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion and Memorandum to Certify Class 08/02/2015
PB-KY-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Verified Third-Party Complaint of Kim Davis 08/04/2015
PB-KY-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Motion for Preliminary Injunction by Defendant-Third Party Plaintiff] 08/07/2015
PB-KY-0006-0005.pdf | Detail
Memorandum and Order [Preliminary Injunction] 08/12/2015 (123 F.Supp.3d 924) (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion and Memorandum to Stay August 12, 2015 Injunction Pending Appeal 08/13/2015
PB-KY-0006-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Order denying Defendant's Motion to Stay but suspending the denial pending review by the Sixth Circuit] 08/17/2015 (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Order setting expiration date for suspension of preliminary injunction to August 31, 2015] 08/19/2015 (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proceedings: Hearing on Motion [Order Holding Defendant in contempt of court and into the custody of the U.S. Marshalls] 09/03/2015 (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Order Releasing Defendant from jail provided she does not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses by the deputy clerks of Rowan County] 09/08/2015 (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order 09/11/2015 (2015 WL 9461520) (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 09/17/2015 (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/09/2016 (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bunning, David L. (E.D. Ky.)
PB-KY-0006-0006 | PB-KY-0006-0008 | PB-KY-0006-0009 | PB-KY-0006-0010 | PB-KY-0006-0011 | PB-KY-0006-0012 | PB-KY-0006-0014 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Canon, Daniel J. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-0001 | PB-KY-0006-0002 | PB-KY-0006-0003 | PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Dunman, Leonard J. IV (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-0001 | PB-KY-0006-0002 | PB-KY-0006-0003 | PB-KY-0006-0004 | PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Esseks, James Dixon (New York)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Gannam, Roger K. (Florida)
PB-KY-0006-0004 | PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-0007 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Landenwich, Laura E. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-0001 | PB-KY-0006-0002 | PB-KY-0006-0003 | PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Mach, Daniel (District of Columbia)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Mar, Ria Tabacco (New York)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Sharp, William E. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-0001 | PB-KY-0006-0002 | PB-KY-0006-0003 | PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Weaver, Heather Lynn (District of Columbia)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Christman, Jonathan (Florida)
PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-0007 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Donahue, A.C. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-0007 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Lear, William M. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Mando, Jeffrey C. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Mihet, Horatio G. (Florida)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Parsons, Claire (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-0005 | PB-KY-0006-9000
Vance, Palmer (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Watkins, Cecil (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Other Lawyers Campbell, Michael (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Clark, Jeremy (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Cone, C. Timothy (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Fleenor, David E. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Flores, Mark Anthony (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Fox, Michael B. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Hughes, Richard A. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Joy, Sebastian J. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Markelonis, Andy (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Murphy, Vaughn (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Silletto, Aaron J. (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000
Stoltz, Stephen Paul (Kentucky)
PB-KY-0006-9000

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