A Kentucky clerk is still refusing to issue marriage licenses due to her religious opposition to same-sex nuptials, even after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the final blow to her argument.It's distressing that this argument is still around, given what Antonin Scalia wrote in 1990:
On Tuesday morning, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis denied marriage licenses to at least two couples, telling them she was acting ”under God’s authority.” She then asked David Moore and David Ermold, a couple who has been rejected by her office four times, to leave.
“Would you do this to an interracial couple?” Moore asked.
“A man and a woman, no,” Davis said. “I just want you to know that we are not issuing marriage licenses today pending the appeal in the 6th Circuit.”
“The Supreme Court denied your stay,” Moore shot back.
“We are not issuing marriage licenses today,” Davis repeated.
“Under whose authority?” asked Ermold.
“Under God’s authority,” said Davis, before asking them to leave.
We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Ed. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594 -595 (1940): "Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities (footnote omitted)." We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. "Laws," we said, "are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." [Emphasis added.]And yet, that is precisely what Kim Davis was trying to do.