Ken Paxton, Attorney General for the Great State of Texas (really, that’s how you’re supposed to refer to it), has set up dozens of county clerks to be sued. This is a classic Dover Trap, named after Dover, Pennsylvania. Basically, it’s a situation where the state or high level official says something is OK, when it’s not, and the people who believe him or her get sued. The high level official skates away and the lower level official (or school board or city or whatever) ends up paying millions of dollars in damages and attorney fees.
Ken Paxton has publicly declared and stated that, in his opinion
- “County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.
- “Justices of the peace and judges similarly retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection, because it is not the least restrictive means of the government ensuring the ceremonies occur. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”
I should add that Paxton all calls the Supreme Court of the United States (which is weighted to the conservative) ruling a “lawless ruling” and that it presents a “fundamental dilemma” because
A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is considered the law of the land, but a judge-made edict that is not based in the law or the Constitution diminishes faith in our system of government and the rule of law.
In other words, Paxton is a moron who has no business being the Attorney General of 27,000,000 people (many of whom are taking quick advantage of the ruling to get married. For example, this from my home county (which I would have thought to be as anti-gay as possible).
So, what Ken is doing here, is trying to promote the idea that it is OK to ignore a SCOTUS ruling that he doesn’t like.
I don’t know why he doesn’t like it. I don’t care. His personal opinions are just that, his personal opinions.
If he doesn’t feel that he can support the rule of law and the Supreme Court, then he should take this opportunity to become a conscientious objector and resign from his position. That’s his only real solution. But he won’t do that.
Instead, he is telling a bunch of people who may or may not have college degrees that he says it’s OK to ignore the Supreme Court… if their religion guides them to that. Which is an argument that is doomed to fail in almost any court. Again, if one cannot do the job one was hired for, then one should resign as an objector.
But to deny the law of the land and prevent people from having the rights that they have fought for and been granted, is a perilous action.
The ACLU of Texas has already set up a hotline for those in counties that are denying marriage licenses.
— ACLU of Texas (@ACLUTx) June 29, 2015
And the County Clerk of Denton county (North of Dallas/Fort Worth) had this to say (which is correct)
“Personally, same-sex marriage is a contradiction to my faith and belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Denton County Clerk Juli Luke said in a statement Sunday, according to the the Denton Record-Chronicle. “However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law, and as an elected public official, my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”
Regardless, if there is a lawsuit, it is most likely that Paxton will not be named personally while the poor clerk that took his advice ends up with millions of dollars in damages, legal fees, and no job. I wonder if Paxton will foot the defense bill… or even worse, use state resources for it.