TIME Courts

What’s Next for the Kentucky Clerk Who Won’t Issue Gay Marriage Licenses?

She has few legal options, with fines, impeachment or even criminal prosecution looming

A law clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs remained defiant Tuesday, despite the Supreme Court effectively cutting off her legal avenues the night before. But even though Davis is essentially refusing to do her job, she can’t exactly be fired.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who did not respond to requests for comment by TIME, was elected to her position in November 2014. On Tuesday, she denied marriage licenses to two same-sex couples, just as she has refused to issue licenses to straight or gay couples since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June. The Supreme Court dismissed an emergency motion on Monday to grant a stay of an earlier district court decision that also ruled against her, leaving Davis with few legal paths forward.

Because Davis is an elected official, she can only be officially removed through an impeachment, says University of Kentucky law professor Scott Bauries. But that isn’t likely. The Kentucky General Assembly, which would bring impeachment proceedings, currently isn’t in session. While Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, could theoretically call a special session, experts say the divided legislature would side with Rowan. “She’s probably got enough supporters that she wouldn’t be impeached anyway,” Bauries says.

The federal courts, however, likely won’t stand by and allow her to defy the law of the land. Judge David Bunning of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky can sanction Davis for being in contempt of court, which could include fines for each day she’s in violation. “It’s very likely Judge Bunning is going to sanction her sometime this week, likely a monetary sanction,” Bauries says.

Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins has also referred the case to the state attorney general to investigate whether Davis is engaged in official misconduct, specifically over her refusal to perform official duties. “We’re reviewing that matter,” says Leland Hulbert, a spokesperson for the Kentucky attorney general’s office. “Whether or not our office assigns a special prosecutor about possible criminal charges, that is probably yet to be determined.”

The clerk could resign of course — but she ruled that out in a statement released by her law firm Liberty Counsel. “Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well,” Davis wrote. “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. … I intend to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.”

In June, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Soon after, Davis began her standoff with federal judges, citing “God’s authority” and her Christian beliefs. She filed a lawsuit in federal court after Gov. Beshear ordered the state’s clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses, but both a district court judge and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Davis, who then appealed to the Supreme Court. A district court granted Davis a stay, which expired Monday, and the Supreme Court rejected an emergency motion filed by Davis to extend that stay.

The ACLU on Tuesday filed a motion against Davis on behalf of two gay couples in an attempt to hold Davis in contempt of court. An appeal against the federal court ruling ordering Davis to issue marriage licenses is still pending in the sixth circuit. But her appeal, experts say, will likely go nowhere.

“I think now she is basically out of options,” says Kermit Roosevelt, a University of Pennsylvania law professor. “If the Supreme Court had thought this was a serious issue here and there were any likelihood of success on the merits, it would have issued a stay.”

– With additional reporting by Eliza Gray

TIME India

India Has Destroyed Only 30% of the Illegal Drugs It Seized in 10 Years, Study Reveals

The country's apex court suspects many of them are smuggled back into the black market

India has destroyed only about 30% of illicit narcotics seized over the past decade, results of the country’s first-ever official drug survey revealed on Monday.

The Indian government has impounded about 5.1 million kg of drugs in the past 10 years but successfully destroyed only 1.6 million, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

The total amount of drugs confiscated by police in various states, the country’s Narcotics Control Bureau, and the Central Board for Excise and Customs comprises 1.9 million kg of marijuana, 29,000 kg of heroin, 22,000 kg of charas (a handmade form of cannabis), 15,000 kg of opium and about 2 million kg of “other contraband.”

The findings were revealed by advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha, who was appointed to oversee the study by the country’s Supreme Court during an appeal hearing in 2012. The appeal was against the acquittal of an accused drug trafficker, who was exonerated because of the prosecutors’ inability to show that the opium he was caught with was destroyed.

The court expressed concern that the procedural lapse in destroying drugs increased the risk that they would be smuggled back into public circulation.

[Indian Express]

TIME India

India’s Supreme Court Permits Jains, a Prominent Religious Group, to Fast to Death

INDIA-RELIGION-JAIN
STR—AFP/Getty Images Members of the Indian Jain community participate in a rally after a march protesting the Rajasthan State High Court ruling against Santhara, a Jain practice of fasting unto death, in Jaipur on August 24, 2015.

A lower court had earlier banned the religious practice

The Jains — practitioners of one of India’s most ancient religions — on Monday won back the right to fast until death after the country’s Supreme Court suspended an order that deemed the practice illegal.

The top court said it would consider the matter in greater detail but refused to uphold an earlier ban, the BBC reported.

The practice of preparing for death by giving up food and water — known as santhara or sallekhana — was pronounced illegal earlier this month by a high court in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, which deemed it equivalent to suicide.

Jains rose up in protest against the ruling, saying santhara — termed a “social evil” by some human rights groups — was a religious practice as opposed to the “sin” of suicide. The practice was fairly common only amongst terminally ill or very old Jains as a way to purge their bodies and prepare for inevitable death.

[BBC]

TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Clerk Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Gay Marriage License Case

Kim Davis
Timothy D. Easley—AP Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a Religious Freedoms Rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky. on Aug. 22, 2015.

Kim Davis pleads for "asylum for her conscience" as she denies marriage licenses to gay couples for religious reasons

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) — Two months after it legalized gay marriage nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked by a Kentucky county clerk for permission to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis objects to same-sex marriage for religious reasons. The Supreme Court says the constitution guarantees gay people have the right to marry, but Davis contends the First Amendment guarantees her the right of religious freedom.

She stopped issuing all marriage licenses the day after the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide in June.

Two gay couples and two straight couples sued Davis, arguing she must fulfill her duties as an elected official. A federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses and an appeals court upheld that decision. Davis’ lawyers said they petitioned the Supreme Court on Friday to delay that decision until her appeal is finished, a process that could take months.

Her attorneys with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel wrote in their appeal to the court that Davis is seeking “asylum for her conscience.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who joined the majority opinion effectively legalized gay marriage in the U.S., will hear Davis’ case.

University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson said he believes Kagan will deny Davis’ request based on the court’s earlier decision.

Davis has refused to comply with several court orders in recent weeks, turning away gay couples over and over. She says they could easily drive to a nearby county to get a marriage license. But gay couples argue they have a right to get a marriage license in the county where they live, work and pay taxes.

Davis has said she will not resign her $80,000-a-year job and will never issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court denies her request.

“If a (same-sex marriage) license is issued with Davis’ name, authorization and approval, no one can unring that bell,” she wrote the court. “That searing act of validation would forever echo in her conscience.”

Her attorney, Jonathan D. Christman, wrote that forcing her to issue licenses is akin to forcing a person who objects to war into the battlefield, or forcing a person against capital punishment to carry out an execution.

Davis cannot be fired because she is an elected official. The Legislature could impeach her, but that is unlikely given that many state lawmakers share her beliefs. The Republican president of the state Senate spoke at a rally last week in support of Davis.

The gay couples that sued her could ask U.S. District Judge David Bunning to hold Davis in contempt. That would trigger another court hearing and would likely include testimony from Davis herself. The judge could then order hefty fines or even put her in jail until she complies with the order.

TIME India

Two Indian Sisters Ordered to Be Raped by Village Council Beg Supreme Court for Help

They are being punished by the unelected council because their brother eloped with a married woman from a higher caste

A petition to save two sisters in India from being raped and publicly humiliated for their brother’s actions, a punishment handed down by an unofficial village council, has gathered considerable support for its demand that authorities intervene and stop the “disgusting ruling” from being enforced.

The petition by human-rights organization Amnesty International has garnered over 16,000 signatures thus far, and calls for law enforcement to stop the council-sanctioned rape of 23-year-old Meenakshi Kumari and her 15-year-old sister in Baghpat village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The unelected council of elders ordered that Kumari and her sister — both members of the low Dalit caste — be raped and paraded naked with blackened faces, after their brother eloped with a married woman of a higher caste. He and the woman, who belongs to the dominant Jat caste, were in love and eloped after she was forced to marry someone from her own caste, according to reports.

Kumari also approached India’s Supreme Court herself last week, saying that police have been harassing her and her family instead of protecting them.

In a plea to the court Kumari said she and her family “cannot return back to her village and have been rendered homeless.”

The court has asked for a response from the Uttar Pradesh government.

“Nothing could justify this abhorrent punishment,” the Amnesty petition reads. “It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s against the law. Demand that the local authorities intervene immediately.”

Village councils in northern India, known as khap panchayats, are generally comprised of senior male members of the community’s high castes. Although the councils have been declared illegal by the courts, their edicts are still observed in many parts of rural India.

Read next: Riots Break Out in India Over a Dominant Caste’s Attempt to Gain ‘Backward’ Status

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MONEY Financial Planning

Start Preparing for Same-Sex Divorce

same sex groom figures on cake cut in half
Getty Images

Sometimes you get the bitter with the sweet. Here's how to plan for love not keeping you together.

Now that the US Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage, I’ve been happy to see the celebrations and joyous faces of couples who have longed to make their commitment a legal one. The legal landscape is leveled for married same-sex couples, and the longtime challenge of navigating different state laws is finally over. Congratulations!

But I’m a financial planner who works with divorcing and divorced people, so at the same time that I congratulate all these happy newlyweds, I can’t help thinking ahead to the financial complications that may ensue when some of these marriages break up.

I am painfully aware that in some states, same-sex couples had been hampered in many areas of their lives: property ownership, adoption, employee benefits, inheritance rights, and medical decisions, to name a few. Happily a lot of those hurdles will be gone now. But in a few years, new ones will pop up.

Though divorce laws vary state-by-state, some basic factors commonly guide courts’ approach to financial decisionmaking: how long the couple has been married, how they have contributed financially to each other and to their family, and what property is separate or commingled.

If all goes well, with marriage equality we will have divorce equality. For example, we could factor in that assets acquired during years a gay couple partnered but were not legally wed will be included in the marital pie. Estate plans drawn up earlier to facilitate transfer of wealth between partners could be understood as statements of intent when dividing marital property. The decision by one spouse to be a parent would now be the right for both.

I imagine it will be challenging to evaluate financial and nonfinancial contributions based on an ambiguous timeline and the differing perceptions of two individuals. In marriage, there is a clear demarcation line. Partnered couples who choose to marry have an opportunity and responsibility to understand their many financial and legal entitlements. These entitlements come with the knowledge that all prior planning or lack of planning (unintentional or not) is superseded.

It’s my belief that same-sex couples, in the near term, should sign prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements to clearly identify financial issues and set a clear rational path for disentangling themselves if the unhoped-for situation happens. These agreements could instruct how and what the couple would divide if they separate, their intent concerning financial support for one another, and the basis for how they legally titled assets in their estate planning. Gray areas exist when assets are not jointly titled or beneficiaries are not designated on financial accounts or specifically gifted personal property. Siblings, children, and other relatives may have very different ideas concerning what they should receive vs. what a partner should.

There are other implications for same-sex couples: Spouses who pay alimony can deduct that spousal support on their federal income tax returns. Divorcing couples can divide retirement assets and are entitled to receive qualified domestic relations orders; that helps them avoid federal taxation on some workplace retirement plans such as 401(k)s and pensions. Transfers of all or part of an IRA can be done without incurring federal tax. Social Security is no longer prevented from recognizing same-sex marriages in determining entitlement to Social Security benefits—some of which can be claimed on the basis of a spouse’s work record, even after a divorce.

In the short term, though, until same-sex marriage is no longer a novelty, there are strong financial reasons to prepare for the unthinkable. Until there is equality in the practice and protection under these laws across the states, same-sex married couples need to take control of their financial planning and leave as little as possible to interpretation.

Vasileff received the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ 2013 Pioneering Award for her public advocacy and leadership in the field of divorce financial planning. Vasileff is president emeritus of the ADFP and is a member of NAPFA, FPA, and IACP. She is president and founder of Divorce and Money Matters, serving clients nationwide from Greenwich, Conn. Her website is www.divorcematters.com.

TIME India

The Indian Police Officer Who Challenged the Handling of 2002 Riots Has Been Sacked

INDIA-MOTHER TERESA AWARD
Sam Panthaky—AFP/Getty Images Indian police officer Sanjiv Bhatt gestures after receiving the 5th Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice in Ahmedabad, India, on Dec. 31, 2012

Sanjiv Bhatt said the charges justifying his dismissal are "completely fabricated"

A top Indian police officer who opposed the government in the western state of Gujarat over its handling of anti-Muslim riots in 2002, when current Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister, has been terminated from his post after serving for 27 years, the Indian Express reports.

The officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, was sacked through an Aug. 13 order from India’s Home Ministry that listed 11 charges against him, according to the Press Trust of India.

The charges include unauthorized absence from duty, defying orders from a superior officer, retaining custody of government assets without authorization and misbehaving with government servants. Bhatt, the order says, “flagrantly” violated rules “with complete disregard to discipline.”

Bhatt was suspended in 2011 after filing an affidavit with the country’s Supreme Court against the Modi-led state government over the communal riots in Gujarat. At the time of the riots, Bhatt was the state’s deputy commissioner of intelligence.

In the affidavit, he claimed he had attended a meeting at the then chief minister’s residence in February 2002, at which Modi allegedly told officers to “allow Hindus to vent their anger” against the minority community. Multiple courts have cleared Modi of any wrongdoing during the riots, in which more than 1,200 Muslims were killed in retaliation for an alleged arson attack on a train that killed 59 Hindus.

Bhatt’s claim was rejected by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the court to probe the riots, and he was subsequently arrested briefly after accusations that he forced a junior officer to file a false affidavit in another riot-related case. The 51-year-old officer was also served a notice by the government after a sex tape that appeared to show him with an unknown woman surfaced.

Bhatt appeared to take a somewhat lighthearted approach to his dismissal, saying on Twitter that he was “eligible for employment”.

He did, however, clarify his perspective on the matter in a subsequent statement.

“The government of the day has decided to remove me from service after conducting a sham, ex parte inquiry on completely fabricated charges of ‘unauthorised absence from duty,’” he said in a Facebook post late Wednesday night, adding that the absences referred to the period when he was deposing before the SIT and another commission instituted to investigate the riots. “So be it,” he said.

TIME India

Most of India’s Execution Records Have Been ‘Lost or Destroyed by Termites’

Indian policemen stand guard near the residence of Memon in Mumbai
Shailesh Andrade—Reuters Indian policemen stand guard near the residence of Yakub Memon, in Mumbai, India, July 30, 2015. India hanged Yakub Memon on Thursday for his role in the country's deadliest bombings, which killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993.

The absence of information shows the "callousness" of the record-keeping system, according to researchers

There is a significant dearth of official information concerning Indian death penalty cases, according to a New Delhi university legal researcher who is now struggling to complete the first comprehensive study on capital punishment in the country.

Anup Surendranath, the professor at the Indian capital’s National Law University spearheading the research project, said that prisons across India responded to record requests by claiming many documents had been “lost or destroyed by termites.” Among the missing files are the 2001 mercy pleas of four men convicted in the 1992 Bara Massacre, a mass murder carried out by Maoist insurgents in the Eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Though records confirm that capital punishment has a prominent position in India’s judiciary history — at least 1,400 executions occurred between 1953 and 1963 alone — the country’s prisons could only provide data on 765 cases between Indian independence in 1947 and the present day.

“There’s a complete lack of information — they don’t even have the names of the prisoners, let alone the official files,” Surendranath told TIME. “It just shows the callousness of the record-keeping system in the jails.”

The task of documenting the activity of the country’s gallows is left to the individual prisons, he said, with “no central authority correlating this [information].”

The absence of relevant data has limited the National Law University’s study to ongoing capital cases — those where the prisoner continues to wait on death row. Execution is an increasingly rare sentence in contemporary India, with only four prisoners hanged in the country since 2000. One of which came just last week, when the country’s Supreme Court finally moved to hang Yakub Memon, the “driving spirit” behind the 1993 terrorist bombings in Mumbai, the deadliest in the country’s history. The execution, carried out on Memon’s 53rd birthday, followed a drawn-out legal debate.

Surendranath, who resigned on Friday from his position as the Supreme Court’s Deputy Registrar of Research, has been an outspoken critic of the death penalty in India, actively speaking out against Memon’s planned execution. Though he declined to comment to TIME on his resignation, he posted on Facebook that he stepped down to “focus on death penalty work at the University.”

“It is in many ways liberating to to regain the freedom to write whatever I want and I hope to make full use of that in the next few days to discuss the events that transpired at the Supreme Court this week,” he wrote. The post came a day after one that declared the rulings to execute Memon as “instances of judicial abdication that must count amongst the darkest hours for the Supreme Court of India.”

He told TIME that his research team would release its official report on Indian capital punishment later this month.

TIME India

Over 800 Adult Websites Including Pornhub and YouPorn Just Got Blocked in India

Proponents of the ban claim ready access to porn leads to sexual attacks on women

Internet service providers in India have blocked hundreds of pornographic websites at the behest of the Indian government, according to sources in the country’s communications ministry.

The sources said on Sunday that several websites (857 in total) were “found to be spreading anti-social activities,” the Hindustan Times newspaper reported. “Some of them were pornographic, so we have sent letters to internet service providers to block them,” they added.

Many internet companies confirmed receiving the letters, and several other websites are reportedly “under review” by the government as per a court order, according to the Times.

Rumors of the website blockage began doing the rounds on Friday night, when Indian netizens reported that many popular pornography sites like YouPorn and Pornhub were inaccessible through multiple service providers.

But some providers have refused to enforce the government’s request until they receive an unambiguous definition of what constitutes pornography.

“What’s nudity to one person might be art to someone else. The scope of what can be blocked has to be really narrow,” the executive of a major internet company, requesting anonymity, told the Economic Times newspaper.

Twitter users reacted with a mix of exasperation, outrage and resigned satire at the news, with many implying that the conservative government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is to blame.

Proponents of a porn ban like advocate Kamlesh Vaswani, who filed a public interest litigation with the Supreme Court, argue that access to adult content leads to rape and other violent crimes against women, while opponents argue the reverse. The court agreed with Vaswani’s petition in principle but said earlier this month that it had no power to enforce a ban unless the government directed it to do so.

A further hearing on the case is yet to take place.

India is home to some of the most avid consumers of pornography, with data gathered by Pornhub showing that the South Asian nation ranks fifth in terms of daily visitors to the site and fourth in terms of mobile visitors.

TIME Innovation

A Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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5. Micropayments for news stories might be making a comeback.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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