The White House said today that the Kentucky county clerk taken into custody over her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses should obey the law just as President Obama does.
Press secretary Josh Earnest, asked at today’s briefing about the jailing of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for contempt, said “ultimately I think that this is something that the courts will weigh in on.”
But, he said, “the question of the rule of law” is at stake.
“And every public official in our democracy is subject to the rule of law. No one is above the law. That applies to the president of the United States and that applies to the County Clerk and Rowan County, Kentucky, as well,” Earnest said. “And that’s a fundamental principal of our democracy. In terms of how that applies to this particular case? That’s obviously something that a judge will have to decide. And I would not second guess it from here.”
Earnest said he hadn’t spoken with Obama about “this particular matter,” and was “obviously limited in what I can say, given the ongoing court activity.”
“I will just say on principle that the success of the democracy depends on the rule of law, and there is no public official that is above the rule of law,” he continued. “Certainly not the president of the United States, but neither is the Rowan County clerk. That’s a principle that is enshrined in our Constitution and in our democracy, and it’s one that, obviously, the courts are seeking to uphold.”
Asked if Davis should be in jail, Earnest replied, “I would not, from this vantage point, second-guess those decisions.”
“It’s appropriate in this instance for the federal judge to determine the best way to enforce the law,” he said.
One of Kentucky’s senators, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), had no comment, telling reporters it’s a “state issue.” The other, Rand Paul (R), told CNN “it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty.”
“You know, if you want to convince people that same-sex marriage is something that’s acceptable, I would say try to persuade people. But, you know, if we’re going to use the federal government, and we’re going to get involved in every state locality, you know what’s going to happen? It’s going to harden people’s resolve on this issue,” Paul said. “There’ll be no open-mindedness on this. And I think it’s a real mistake to be doing this.”