Stephen L. Carter ― An Oath to Uphold Only the Just Laws
Dr. Stephen L. Carter's latest piece on the Kim Davis situation.
via Bloomberg View
"I’m reluctant to disagree with my Bloomberg View colleague Noah Feldman, but after a bit of reflection and research, I’ve concluded that he got things slightly wrong in his recent column about Kim Davis. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was held in contempt for defying a federal judge's order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, has argued that her religious freedom is being violated. What caught Feldman's attention was her claim that her oath of office, which ends with “so help me God,” entitles her to invoke a higher law when necessary. Feldman thinks she's mistaken. I wish she were; I fear she's not.
This column isn’t a defense of Davis. I’m a passionate supporter of a broad right to accommodation of religious conscience. But I don’t think such exemptions can apply to a public official, who after all is a monopolist. If a county clerk won’t give a couple a marriage license, it’s not as if they can go to her competitor in the office next door. So the judge was right to issue the order, and the U.S. Supreme Court was right to reject her appeal. Now that Davis is back at work, I hope she'll obey the law."