Attorney General Conway decision not to appeal took courage.
Attorney General Jack Conway’s decision not to appeal a federal court ruling that Kentucky must recognize same sex marriages from other jurisdictions is an example of the kinds of political courage that Jack Kennedy highlighted in “Profiles in Courage.”
Kennedy’s book,a Pulitzer Prize winner, chronicles political decisions that cost politicians their careers. Conway’s decision not to bow to pressure and appeal the decision may very well be his finest moment. It also looks like the Attorney General just doomed his future in politics.
Conway, whose aspirations to be governor of Kentucky someday, are well known will face a storm of criticism for this decision. Rural and conservative voters will not forgive the Attorney General for refusing to side with them. Conway’s supporters reside primarily in urban areas. Unfortunately, there is not enough urban in Kentucky to outweigh rural votes. Conway has been in politics his whole adult life. He must have known the stakes when he made his decision.
Deciding not to waste millions (yes, MILLIONS) of taxpayer dollars on an appeal doomed to failure should be cause for Kentuckians to rejoice. Tea Party supporters and libertarian leading conservatives, who espouse limiting government spending, ought to be issuing press releases praising Conway. It hasn’t happened yet and we don’t expect it to happen at all.
Contrast Conway’s decision with Governor Beshear’s announcement that he will pursue an appeal. Beshear is a lawyer. He knows what the chances of prevailing are slim to the point of nonexistence. But it’s what the majority of Kentuckians want, so he’s giving the crowd what it wants.
By “he” the Governor means “we” as in the Kentucky taxpayer. A call has gone out to law firms to bid on representing the state in the appeal of the federal district court’s decision.
Expect the big firms to line up for a chance to take Kentucky into the history books as recognition of same sex marriage goes all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The number of federal district courts ruling that failing to recognize the validity of marriages contracted in other states and foreign jurisdictions is a violation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution and the appeals filed of those decisions guarantees that the SCOTUS will take the case up. The only questions are when and what state appeal will get to be named in the case.
Spending taxpayer money on pointless legal battles has long been one of our pet peeves. We have seen too many county governments defy the First Amendment’s separation of church and state provisions by putting up religious displays. Too many times appeals come from counties that can ill afford to spend money on legal fees. The appeals may be emotionally satisfying, but they are seldom if ever successful. In fact, what they have done is to create a goofy set of decisions that amount to legitimizing Christmas crèches by putting Santa Claus next to the Baby Jesus. No one ever asks the obvious question “Does this make any sense?”
Conway looked at the viability of an appeal to a decision rendered by Western District of Kentucky Federal Judge John J. Heyburn II., a conservative judge whose rise to the bench was supported by none other than that champion of liberalism Mitch McConnell and nominated by equally liberal George H. W. Bush. Conway looked at the case and decided an appeal did not make sense.
Would that Steve Beshear had reached the same conclusion!
He may very well have doomed Kentucky to being the modern equivalent of “Loving vs. Virginia” (the case cited as striking down marriage bans between the races.) There are those who on religious and moral grounds that want Kentucky to forever stand in the place of Virginia where recognition of same sex marriage is concerned.
We salute Attorney General Conway for not being one of them.