Mike Huckabee tries to defend Kim Davis on “Morning Joe”

Mike Huckabee appeared on “Morning Joe” this morning and tried to give a legal defense of Kim Davis’s refusal to sign marriage licenses in Kentucky. If you have not seen it yet, I encourage you to watch it. Some observations about this:

1. Huckabee’s defense of Davis is different from the one Davis’s lawyers offered in court. Davis’s lawyers contend that her first amendment right to religious freedom ought to be accommodated. They did not argue that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell does not have the force of law. Davis’s lawyer explained her predicament yesterday in terms of religious liberty:

“Today, for the first time in history, an American citizen has been incarcerated for having the belief of conscience that marriage is the union of one man and one woman… And she’s been ordered to stay there until she’s willing to change her mind, until she’s willing to change her conscience about what belief is.”

So Davis’s legal team has been making a religious liberty claim. Yet Huckabee argues here that the Supreme Court’s decision does not have the force of law. I agree with Huckabee that Obergefell is judicial tyranny, but his defense of Davis seems really strange. I’m no lawyer, but it’s hard to imagine any judge of any ideological persuasion buying this line.

2. Notice the looks on the faces of Joe, Mika, and the other hosts. Their tortured expressions reveal their nonplussed disbelief at Huckabee’s legal argument. They aren’t buying it. And what we witness in their response is likely what other Americans will feel as well.

3. Because Huckabee’s argument isn’t really based on religious liberty, I do not think that it is likely to persuade fair-minded Americans who might otherwise be open to a religious liberty claim in these kinds of cases. I’m concerned that this appearance isn’t really helping us to move the ball down the field—at least not in the direction that we want it to go. I am thankful that Huckabee wishes to defend Davis and do the right thing, but I’m skeptical whether this line will help the cause of religious liberty. It seems more likely to sow confusion and contempt toward our first freedom.

4. My view is that Christians in this kind of situation should not defy the law unless they have no other recourse. I think this is the apostolic standard (Acts 5:29; Rom. 13:1-7). Nevertheless, this case isn’t an easy one, and I think people of good conscience can differ whether Kim Davis should have resigned instead of defying the judge’s order. No matter your view on this question, I think it is an unnecessary and draconian overreach to put Kim Davis in jail for this. Even if you think her conscience is misguided (as the “Morning Joe” hosts obviously do), do you really think she should go to jail when other lesser measures were available to the judge? I don’t, and that is why I still believe her incarceration is unconscionable. I am disappointed that no one on the “Morning Joe” set seemed to be troubled at all that she was sent to jail for following her conscience.


  • Ian Shaw

    Denny, I think that she should have resigned, rather than continue to collect a paycheck while not executing her responsibilities of that elected office.

    There have been judges, etc. that have resigned in light of the Obergefell decision. If it came down to it at my job, I wouldn’t try to continue being something that I’m not.

    I’m not saying that she’s being “persecuted” but I think we will start seeing that people will make sacrifices to keep their faith, ie-quitting their jobs.

    But for the record, I feel jailing her was a stretch considering the slew of liberal elected officials that refused to act on Prop 8, CO pot laws and CA CCW court rulings that receive no jail time nor impeachment from their positions.

  • Christiane Smith

    IAN, I also think she should resign. There is a duality present: Mrs. Davis is a Christian woman with a conscience that will not allow her to proceed with her job in the way that it now exists. Mrs. Davis is also an elected officer of the government of her state who is honor bound (by oath) to do her job. The ‘conflict’ is because the parameters of her job have now moved to include responsibilities she is unable to perform, not by her ‘authority’ in office, but rather by the demands of her private conscience.

    In the end, she appealed to a court that she could not respect, as she had already chosen to follow a ‘higher’ law, and this is also a concern ethically . . . who advised her to do this, knowing she would not respect the ruling of the Supreme Court? That does come off at ‘contempt’. I chalk this up as very poor legal representation on the part of her attorneys.

    The woman sitting in a jail cell is not being seen sympathetically by people on the left and many on the right . . . she has lost her battle with the highest court in the land . . . she has not got attorneys who have her best interest at heart . . . God forbid she becomes a pawn in the Culture War’s ‘Game of Groans’ (sorry) . . . I’m for resignation and real help for this woman who tried to do what she thought was the right thing . . . and Denny’s right: when Mika doesn’t express a sympathetic note for Mrs. Davis’ current situation, that is surprising and for Mika, somewhat out of character.

    • dr. james willingham

      The fellow who jumped into the coliseum to end the gladiator combats was not seen favorably by people on many sides. He was promptly dispatched by the gladiators at the cry of the populace. Eventually, however, people came to their senses and end such bloody horrors. John Brown was Calvinist determined to end slavery; it cost him his life along with the lives of other even in his own family. In the end, however, the event of taking the Harper’s Ferry Arsenal was one of the steps leading to the war that ended that evil, a war that costs America more than 650,000 lives. The evils that will follow by opening the door first to same sex marriage, then polygamy, then pedophilia, incest, beastiality, etc., that is, the sufferings of the children, the ruin of people for full and meaningful lives, will wreck our freedoms. It took America 300 years to get slavery removed. Think of all the suffering of the African Americans due to that awful wickedness, and yet all the time love to one’s brother cut the heart right out greedy covetousness that would sacrifice one’s own family to ambition. Holy love delivers from adultery, fornication, and other such sexual evils. Why not same sex attractions which are contrary to the Bible and to Christian history?

  • dr. james willingham

    Just think: Five people made a decision and it became the law of the land, ignoring the constitution, common and natural law, not to mention Divine law. For over a hundred years a small group of people with the money to implement their desires have been planning, working, and doing everything to bring about the dislodging of the Christian Faith from its position of moral leadership in this land. One of the present members of the conspiracy had boasted that he is, indeed, guilty as charged, namely, the member of a cabal. I believe in a conspiracy, because the conspirators have been saying so for more than a century. Even George Washington was aware of the group called the illuminati and that they had come to these shores. We will find that there is a terrible price to be paid for men of faith doing nothing. The sin of omission can be worse than the sin of commission.

      • dr. james willingham

        Yep! But while under legal guises we might be bound, our consciences tell us we are not bound, that such action violated the spirit of the constitution, natural law, the Bible, our faith, and, basically, criminalizes all religious believers. I propose the impeachment of those justices that voted such aberration. Even the Chief Justice was bent out of shape by their actions.

        • brettcody76

          But James, Buddy is declaring the Supreme Court’s actions as an insurmountable “ex cathedra” authority.
          What an irrevocable trump card! 😉

  • Curt Day

    Huckabee never answered the question regarding the lack of legislation after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Instead, he assumed that the process he and his gov’t had to go through regarding spending after a court reversal applies to boolean choice.

    What the Supreme Court did in the Obergefell decision was to find laws that prohibited same-sex marriage in violation of the 14th amendment. There was no violation of the Constitution in their decision, And since the Supreme Court is to decide cases based on The Constitution and because of the 1st Amendment, consulting Divine law was off the table. And considering that there is no universally accepted definition of natural law pertaining to same-sex marriage, there was no benefit from consulting natural law. And as with Brown V. Board of education, there was no need to write new legislation regarding marriage.

    What the Kim Davis situation has brought out, especially with conservatives, is a tribalism that results in believing that right and wrong depends on who does what to whom. As pointed out elsewhere on the web, if Davis was prohibiting gun licenses, Conservatives would be outraged. But because Davis’ target was same-sex marriage, Huckabee becomes very selective in how he describes the functions of the courts, especially the Supreme Court.

    It is the courts’ job to use The Constitution to determine the legitimacy of any legislation. And when a law is judged unconstitutional, then that law is automatically overridden by the courts.

    We should also note that it wasn’t the Supreme Court that sentenced Davis to jail, it was the judge whose order she defied. And she defied that order in order to bar those who sought to enjoy their right to same-sex marriage. Such an action cannot be justified by Scriptures such as I Cor 5:12.

    • Randall Seale

      What Kim Davis has done underscores the blatant error of the SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Had she only resigned, the nominal response to this pestiferous decision would have been for believers to do likewise. But in choosing to fight, it shows that another worldview than that stated in the 1st Amendment has ascendancy.

      A law (or SCOTUS decision) that compels a follower of Jesus Christ to violate their conscience does not and cannot exist in America as constituted. Surely you know the line: “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If attempted, either America as constituted will die, and the law will live or vice-versa.
      There is no right to SSM in America because the God of Scripture never confers such rights to man. So which god gave sexual perverts a “right” to SSM?

      As for “judging outsiders” (see 1 Co. 5:12), are you suggesting that Christians cannot function as judges in a society? 1 Co. 5:12 has nothing to do with Ms. Davis’ decision. I don’t think she is suggesting that unbelievers must live as believers but that as a believer she cannot be compelled to legitimate that which Scripture calls unnatural, ungodly, and unhealthy.

      Thanks be to God for His Son Jesus Christ and my sister Kim Davis!

      • James Stanton


        The premise we would have to agree on is that God is the inspiration for the rights we enjoy under the Constitution. However, there can be no agreement on this front as long as this is not nation set aside for Christians and devoted to Biblical principles. We have never been such a nation.

        Now, my hope is that SC addresses the issue of religious liberty so that there are clearly defined accommodations and exceptions that respect the rights of Christian citizens in this country. A Christian should be able to serve as a clerk without having to violate his or her conscience. A non-Christian should be able to enjoy the full rights and protections guaranteed by the law without fear of exclusion by a Christian government official.

      • Curt Day

        So you say. But why was the SCOTUS decision and error?

        What Kim Davis is doing is mirroring the desires of many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians: that is to restrict the rights of another group. And what many of us Christians have not understood is that to prohibit same-sex marriage in society is to prevent people who don’t have our religious views of marriage to give up the kind of marriage they want.

        As for us, you could make the same argument that you are make for when Jim Crow was eliminated. Many people used the Scriptures to justify Jim Crow segregation and refusal of services. So Jim Crow was not to be eliminated so that Christians who believed it was Biblical would not be forced to violate their consciences? And if we add to that the fact that many Christians who provide services to weddings didn’t refuse the same services to unbiblical remarriages. So to refuse those services to same-see marriages shows an inconsistency that might point to the fact that their consciecnes are not being violated in the first place.

        Now if it is wrong for Christians to provide business services or issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, how much worse is it for Christians to rent hotel rooms, appartments, or houses to the same? So we should object to equality for same-sex couples so we don’t have to have business dealings with them? So we should work for laws that marginalize those from the LGBT community?

        Finally, yes, I Cor 5:12 has everything to do with this. That is because so we are not forced to have our consciences violated, we oppose equality for others. Why? Because we don’t approve (a.k.a. we condemn) others.

        • Randall Seale


          In my view, 1 Co. 5:21 is not speaking to the legality of behavior but to the morality of behavior. It is not whether people are living according to the laws of their society but the moral standards of God (whatever their civil laws may be). God will tend to those outside the body. For those of us on the inside of the His church, we are compelled to confront the immorality of our brothers and sisters. The civil laws on the outside may ebb-n-flow but the moral standards of God for His people are fixed.

          This is a separate issue than what ought the laws of society to be. And that’s what is at hand with Kim Davis and in particular: Can the government flatten the 1st Amendment and prohibit the free expression of Christian citizens such as Kim Davis?

          • Curt Day

            And yet we can’t separate the separate the morality of the issue from the legality when we base the legality of the behavior on its morality. I Cor 5, as well as when Jesus talks about Church discipline, teaches us that society consists of those who can be in good standing in the Church and those who can’t.

            And thus how we confront immoral behavior is addressed in I Cor 5. We have no choice in terms of confronting it. But we don’t need the law to confront it. It is whether we should use the law to help us confront the behavior that is the issue.

            From the passages that deal with Church discipline, there is no justification for using the law to force Biblical sexual morals on society. None. For how can we follow Paul’s teaching not to judge the world in personal morality issues if we vie for laws that punish people for not following the morality preached by the Church? For when we work for such laws, are we not trying to use society and the state as a supplemental disciplinary arm of the Church?

            And then when we throw the 1st Amendment into the mix, what do you think we are doing when we base law on what the Church teaches? If you were an unbeliever, how would view the Church if it were trying to pass laws controlling your sexual behavior? Would you view it as an institution that you might want to listen to or a threat to your freedom and rights?

            See, it isn’t just the rights of people like Kim Davis that is the issue here. It is whether one person can use their rights to suppress the rights of someone else. Certainly you’ve considered Kim Davis’ rights here. How have you considered the rights of those who want to practice same-sex marriage?

            • dr. james willingham

              How about the rights of those who want to commit murder? At the very least we send them to jail, and the other end is the end or death, if you please. Like the idea of a murderer living next door who might at his pleasure dispense with you. Ever been threatened with physical violence by a homosexual who finds his desires rejected, and his threats were really serious – before we graduated from High School he murdered an old man on the street by beating him to death with his fists.

  • James Bradshaw

    I never got an answer, so let me ask again:

    Is there a general Constitutional “right” for civil clerks to issue civil marriage licenses based on their own personal religious convictions?

    It’s a yes or no answer.

    • buddyglass

      Caveat: I’m not an attorney.

      While there is no general constitutional right, there may be a legal right nevertheless. The Civil Rights Act requires employers to make religious accommodations unless doing so represents and “undue hardship”. I’m not sure whether elected officials count as “employees” and the state as “employer” in the context of the Civil Rights Act, but it sort of makes sense that they would.

      If that’s the case, then (arguably) the State of Kentucky might should have accommodated Davis’s religious beliefs.

      • Curt Day

        Remember that we are talking about an elected position and one which she seems to want to use to promote her religious convictions. We have had a number instances where elected officers insert their morals. For example, governors who oppose the death penalty may not sign the paperwork to put someone to death. The question becomes are they refusing to follow a court order by doing that. Judges can’t ignore those who go around denying court orders. And we should face ourselves and determine if we are using our religion as an apologetic for denying the equal rights of others in this matter.

        Personally, I wish she could have protested and someone take her place, but the office isn’t set up like that. Hopefully she gets out soon.

  • Randall Seale


    I didn’t see your question ‘above’ but you can expedite replies if you’ll put a stamp on your envelope, i.e., define “marriage.”

    Similarly: a) Are “rights” conferred by God or man? b) Which worldview has ascendancy in your question?

  • James Bradshaw


    1) It’s a nonsense question. There is nothing in Scripture that indicates anything about what man should be free to do or not do by their governing bodies. Nothing. Does a human being have a “right” to not be physically assaulted without cause? Not according to Exodus 21:20-21 which offers no recourse to slaves for having been beaten by their masters. Is religious freedom offered to any of God’s people in the Old or New Testament? Nowhere. To the contrary, they are harshly punished for even grumbling against the God of the Bible.

    There are no almost no references to what a legitimate form of government is in Scripture. In the couple passages that exist, they affirm the validity of the rule of law and the necessity of obeying it.

    The whole notion of “rights” that was brought into the founding of this nation was a break from centuries of Christian monarchies and theonomies from Spain and Geneva to Avignon and Rome, not a continuation.

    2) See #1. Even if we said that rights come from God, we’d have to know what they were, and He hasn’t seen fit to tell us. We can only speculate (which is what our Founders ingeniously did when they said that these rights were given to us by God). I understand why they did it. Personal opinion lacks the gravitas that divine decree has.

    But you didn’t answer the question: if this is a matter of religious freedom as a general principle, should civil clerks have the freedom to extend civil marriage licenses based on their own personal beliefs or not?

    • dr. james willingham

      James, James, evidently you have yet to read or hear of Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex which John Witherspoon used to teach Madison and others about how even the King had to an answer to law. The Calvinist, as Dr. George W. Truett declared in his Address at the Centennial Celebration in London in 1934, presses down on the brow of man the crown of responsibility. And King George thought his colonies had run off with a Presbyterian parson. Really!

  • Ian Shaw

    I supposed someone should also mention that legally speaking, she has not violated any state laws, right? I believe the State of Kentucky still has a same-sex marriage ban, don’t they?

    • Roy Fuller

      Ian, you have made this point about Kentucky still having a same-sex marriage ban numerous times. The answer is, yes, such a law is “on the books,” but no, it has no force of law behind it, having been invalidated by the Supreme Court decision. Judicial supremacy and judicial review, whether you agree with them or not, are legal principles which have been enshrined in our legal system.

  • Ben Carmack

    I would tweak Huckabee’s comments on this wise: it isn’t so much a matter of the Supreme Court (which does have the authority to strike down unconstitutional laws and thus, “make law” in a negative sense) as it is a matter of definitions, language, and our national sanity.

    Marriage means one man+one woman. Period. If the courts, or Congress, or state legislatures, have the authority to change the definitions of words, we’re living in an Orwellian nightmare. What’s next? What happens if the Supreme Court decides that Jews are no longer human? What happens if the people of Washington pass a referendum that says that circles are squares?

    Sometimes, the lawful thing to do is to resist, in the name of reason and decency and civility. It doesn’t matter which branch of government imposes the insanity, or how they impose the insanity; the insanity must be resisted.

    That’s exactly what Kim Davis is doing. And in doing so, she is showing more faith, and more credence in Reformed theology (the doctrine of the lesser magistrate) than most of the bigwig Reformed pastors out there.

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