Judge frees Kim Davis, orders her not to interfere with marriage licenses
GRAYSON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has been released from federal custody, after a contempt of court order was lifted Tuesday afternoon.
According to the order, signed by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, Davis "shall be released from the custody of the U.S. Marshal" and "shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples."
Davis was released form jail after 2 p.m. and appeared briefly before the media, during which attorney Mat Staver and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate, spoke on her behalf.
"If Defendant Davis should interfere in any way with their issuance, that will be considered a violation of this order and appropriate sanctions will be considered," Bunning wrote in his order.
When reporters asked Staver if Davis would violate the judge's order, Staver replied: "Kim Davis will not violate her conscience."
During the press conference, Huckabee said if Davis needs to go back to jail, "I will go in her place."
The decision to free her came two hours before a rally was expected to be held outside the Carter County Jail where she has been held from the past five days.
“We are pleased that Kim Davis has been ordered released," said Staver, who is also the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, in a statement released after Bunning's order was issued Tuesday afternoon. "She can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell, where she was incarcerated like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious conviction."
Staver said the Liberty Council will continue to work on Davis' appeals.
Huckabee was also expected to speak on her behalf at the rally Tuesday, alongside Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz -- also a Republican presidential contender -- was expected to visit Davis, but not attend the rally.
Meanwhile, William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, said Tuesday the goal to "ensure that all residents of Rowan County, gay and straight, could obtain marriage licenses" has been achieved.
"The Kentucky Attorney General and counsel for Rowan County have said the marriage licenses are valid," Sharp said. "We are relying on those representations, and our clients look forward to proceeding with their plans to marry.”
The marriage licenses that were issued Friday by deputy clerk Brian Mason did not have Davis' name or signature on them.
At the press conference, Staver maintained that the licenses issued were not legal.
More information from Bunning's order:
"On September 8, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a Status Report at the Court's behest," the judge's order states. "According to the Report, Plaintiffs have obtained marriage licenses from the Rowan County Clerk's. The Court is therefore satisfied that the Rowan County Clerk's Office is fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Obergefell and this Court's August 12, 2015 Order. For these reasons, the Court's prior contempt sanction against Defendant Davis is hereby lifted."
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