Judge should put law before personal beliefs

Published 1:03 pm Thursday, May 4, 2017

Kentucky is once again in the national spotlight for issues involving the rights of homosexual couples. 

A family court judge says “as a matter of conscience,”  he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents. 

Mitchell Nance, a family court judge in the 43rd district, recused himself last week from such cases, citing his “conscientious objection to the concept of adoption of a child by a practicing homosexual,” and thus, the possibility of bias, the Glasgow Daily Times reported. Another judge in the district, John T. Alexander, said he would hear any of the cases from which Nance recused himself. 

Email newsletter signup

Many are comparing Nance’s decision to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who made national headlines for months when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled gay marriage legal. And we can certainly see the similarities. 

Both are elected officials who took an oath to uphold the law and a particular set of duties but argue their religious beliefs prohibit them from doing so. 

While we commend this judge for recognizing his own biases, the issue raises the question of whether he should resign if he can no longer objectively uphold the law.

A judge’s job is to interpret and apply the laws of our nation.

Nance is essentially declaring he does not wish to adhere to a state law that makes adoption by same-sex couples legal. In fact, adoption by same-sex couples is legal in all 50 states as of 2016. 

Much like Kim Davis, Nance is refusing to complete an important part of his job duties because of his personal religious beliefs, thus thrusting all of the responsibility of such cases on another judge, and raising other questions about his credibility on the bench. 

If this judge has a clear bias against same-sex couples, would this bias sway his decisions in other proceedings involving such families? Certainly, Nance hears other cases that involve same-sex parents or couples in his court room. If he admittedly can’t be trusted to hear adoption cases involving same-sex couples, can he be trusted to fully and objectively complete his other job duties? We don’t think so. 

Admittedly, such situations are tricky, to say it simply. As Americans, we celebrate freedom of religion. So, we should never be forced to reject our personal religious beliefs. However, if those beliefs prohibit you from doing your job, then the time has come for you to resign.