Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed without bail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the grounds that doing so would violate her religious beliefs, claims that the state should not force her to act against her conscience. However, despite a number of top GOP Presidential candidates blaming the Obama Admiration and the Justice Department for Davis being in jail without bail it was a strong law and order conservative judge from a big name Kentucky family who is responsible for Davis being in jail today.
Enter David L. Bunning, Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, who strongly disagrees with Davis choice not to issue marriage licenses.
Justice Bunning is the son of former Kentucky Republican Conservative standout Jim Bunning, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky’s 4th congressional district, and served in the House from 1987 to 1999. He was elected to the United States Senate from Kentucky in 1998 and served two terms as the Republican junior U.S. Senator. In July 2009, he announced that he would not run for re-election in 2010.
David Bunning was the youngest judge ever placed on the bench of United States District Court at the age of 35. He was appointed to the position by then President George W. Bush and like his father, Bunning has been ranked high each year by almost every conservative organization who scores judges. Bunning was confirmed unanimously by the Judiciary Committee — and then by the full Senate on Feb. 14, 2002. He was sworn in shortly thereafter as U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
He is strict by the books judge and he ordered Davis jailed for contempt of court and later rejected a proposal to allow her deputies to process same-sex marriage licenses that could have prompted her release.
Davis’s lawyers said she would not retreat from or modify her stand despite a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Judge Bunning secured commitments from five of Davis’s deputies to begin providing the licenses.
“The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Judge Bunning said. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems. Personal opinions, including my own, are not relevant to today,” Bunning, told Davis and the courtroom Thursday. “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed.”
She will be held without bail until she either vacates her post or agrees to carry out the law of the land.
The judge’s decision to jail Davis, a 49-year-old Democrat who was elected last year, immediately intensified the attention focused on her, a longtime government worker who is one of three of Kentucky’s 120 county clerks who contend that their religious beliefs keep them from recognizing same-sex nuptials. Within hours of Davis’s imprisonment, some Republican presidential candidates declared their support for her, a sign that her case was becoming an increasingly charged cause for Christian conservatives.
“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said in a statement.
It is Judge Bunning’s decision that went beyond the wishes of the couples who sued the clerk this summer; their lawyers had asked that she be fined. Some advocates for gay rights quickly expressed concern that Davis’s jailing would make her a sympathetic figure to religious conservatives.
In fact, the judge’s mother, Mary Bunning, told The Cincinnati Enquirer, “He doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court but has to obey the law.”
But Judge Bunning is true to the law and the constitution as his record reflects.
In 2007, sitting temporarily on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, he was part of a three-judge panel that unanimously struck down a Michigan law banning the procedure that abortion opponents call partial-birth abortion.
In 2011, he sided with the coal industry and against environmentalists, upholding a federal permit process that made it easier to get permission for “mountaintop removal” mining. The Sixth Circuit later overturned that ruling.