NOM BLOG

Why Kim Davis Is Such A Threat To Liberals

 

Rachel Lu at The Federalist brilliantly takes to task the cartoonish and misleading nature of the press coverage of the Kim Davis situation by the liberal media:

Image via USA Today/Ty Wright/Getty Images

Image via USA TODAY/Ty Wright/Getty Images

The incarceration and subsequent release of Kim Davis has been a sensation in the liberal press. Virtually every liberal outlet participated in the feeding frenzy.

This is easy to understand. If we don’t slam the lid on this religious-freedom business, Christians might find some loophole they can exploit to go on practicing their religion outside of church. Once you open the door to “conscience objections,” religious people start coming out of the woodwork.

Without some strenuous efforts at media spin, these figures might easily win public approval. Most Americans, after all, say they support religious freedom. Most likely they won’t warm to the idea that Christians should be bludgeoned into submission when a minor legal accommodation could enable them to adhere to their religious beliefs with minimal inconvenience to anyone.

For a left-wing pundit, however, accommodation isn’t the name of this game. What fun is their Supreme Court victory if they don’t get to stick it to the anti-marriage-equality bigots? For the sake of the liberal morality narrative, Davis has to go down. To sell that to the public, she must be dismissed as a right-wing crank.

. . .

Conservatives know that the government is not God. Left-wing pundits have made much of Davis’ declaration that she is following God’s will. In their minds, this is crazy-talk, akin to listening to Little Green Men. Quite a few have tried to make this into the Right’s Kermit Gosnell moment, with Mark Joseph Stern going so far as to declare that Davis is “the monster conservatives created” who will undermine voters’ enthusiasm for religious freedom.

. . .

When Davis was elected, she had no problem doing her job. Post-Obergefell, she is now expected to do something she considers to be morally wrong. No court or politician actually has the authority to contravene the natural order, making wrong actions right. That is her point, and it is perfectly fair, although we all understand how liberal pundits occasionally get confused about the difference between “government” and “God.”

The law of the land is not just a rule book. It’s more accurate to understand it as an organic tradition, which already has many precedents for exactly the kind of problem that arises here: dealing with good-faith conflicts between legal norms and sincere moral or religious beliefs. So, in a sense, it is the law itself that gives us good reasons to look for ways to accommodate people like Davis, whose free exercise of religion is burdened by revisions to current laws.

Liberals, we get that you aren’t big fans of tradition. But maybe you could try to remind yourselves now and then that we aren’t reinventing the wheel every time interests conflict? Many people think they are being principled when they suggest that Davis should quit her job if she feels unable to discharge her duties. But that’s not how these sorts of cases have been handled in the past. Both the Federal Civil Rights Act and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (which Kentucky has passed) provide a legal framework for seeking accommodations for employees who are unable to execute specific duties for reasons of conscience.

It turns out, then, that our legal tradition gives us good reason to seek an accommodation for Davis, and, happily, such a fix could easily be provided along the lines of North Carolina’s already-existing model.