Kim Davis was released from prison today, a moment that seems to be as much of a scandal avoiding showdown on the part of the courts as it is a true resolution to her civil disobedience.
Very few people supported Kim Davis’s rights, including conservatives. Most of the republican presidential candidates failed to support her right to support natural law with the notable exceptions of Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee.
Chris Christi offered a half-hearted solution to simply move Kim Davis to another job (not that this is even possible in her position). Donald Trump appealed to the law when he said “The Supreme Court has ruled. It’s the law of the land.”
Jeb Bush, a Catholic, deviated from his faith when he condemned Kim Davis’s civil disobedience: “She is sworn to uphold the law, and it seems to me that there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and — now that the law is the law of the land — for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is.”
Do all of these conservatives who call for Kim Davis to ‘follow’ the law understand the foundation of law? Here are three reasons why Kim Davis was right to exercise civil disobedience:
Natural Law is Higher Than Common Law
This is a fundamental concept to our nation: common law depends on natural law. This is the basis for the opening line of the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident…endowed by their creator…”
These are phrases which speak towards the basis of natural law for our country.
William Blackstone expounds on this when he says:
This law of nature, being co-eval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original
Alexander Hamilton also speaks extensively of natural law in the Federalist Papers:
Upon this law, depend the natural rights of mankind, the supreme being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beautifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which, to discern and pursue such things, as were consistent with his duty and interest, and invested him with an inviolable right to personal liberty and personal safety.
Why Is Natural Law So Important?
Natural law supercedes written law. This isn’t just some crazy Christian idea, either: this is baked into the very foundation of our country.
Any American who encounters a written law that contradicts natural law has a right to obey natural law first, and in some case they have an obligation to civil disobedience.
The Supreme Court Left the Definition of Marriage Void
In Kentucky, marriage is defined as follows:
402.005 Definition of marriage.
As used and recognized in the law of the Commonwealth, “marriage” refers only to the civil status, condition, or relation of one (1) man and one (1) woman united in law for life, for the discharge to each other and the community of the duties legally incumbent upon those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex.
The Supreme Court’s ruling did not write a new law since this is not within the power of the SCOTUS. The Supreme Court struck down any laws that defined marriage as one man and one woman, effectively leaving a void in the marriage laws.
The laws governing the issuing of licenses is a positive law in that it grants authority to the government to do something. In this situation, SCOTUS has removed the ability to grant any marriage licenses because there is no definition of marriage.
Marriage is now null and void, or it is left entirely to the discretion of the individual issuing certificates.
The Government Cannot Compel Someone to Violate Their Beliefs
This argument is, of course, the core of Kim Davis’s argument: her religious freedom trumps the court ruling.
A lot of conservatives have urged Kim Davis to simply step down in order to avoid violating her beliefs. But in making this suggestion, they assume her only objection is to issue marriage licenses to two people who really aren’t getting married.
Kim Davis is an elected official. As an elected official, she took a vow to enact and implement the laws of the land, and the laws of the land are subject 100% to natural law. To resign her post would be to violate this vow.
What do you think? Comment below.