Last week, a Kentucky federal court ruled the Constitution’s right to marry requires a county clerk to issue a marriage license even though a Kentucky prisoner cannot appear in person at the clerk’s office.
Bradley Jones is engaged to marry Brooke Sauer, who is currently incarcerated at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women. Brad went to the Shelby County Clerk’s office and requested to apply for a marriage license for Brooke and him. The Clerk advised him she could not issue him a marriage license because Brooke was not there in person. Though Brad told the Clerk’s office that Brooke could not be present because she was incarcerated, the Clerk’s office still refused to issue a marriage license.
Craig Henry filed suit against the Shelby County Clerk on Brad’s behalf, and alleged that the Clerk’s refusal to issue a marriage license to Brad and Brooke violated Brad’s right to marry under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
A federal court agreed and issued a blistering decision, in which it held that the Clerk’s actions violated Brad’s constitutional rights. The court quoted from the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges: “the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.” Further, the court stated that it could not “recognize this principle without also honoring [Brad’s] constitutional right to marry this woman, the woman he freely chose. Loved ones are not fungible commodities.”
The court gave the Clerk a deadline by which to issue a marriage license to Brad and Brooke. Craig Henry is overjoyed to have played a part in ensuring that Brad and Brooke will be able to exercise their constitutional right to marry the person of their choice.
If you or a loved one has been denied a license to marry an incarcerated person, Craig Henry PLC offers a free consultation to discuss your situation and advise you of your legal options.
Read the court’s decision here:
Read news coverage of the court’s decision here: