Anti-gay clerk Kim Davis gets the last laugh as court lets her off paying legal costs
Anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis will not have to pay legal costs over her long-running dispute.
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis famously refused to issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015, after the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states.
Four couples (two same-sex ones and two straight ones) sued Davis over her actions, with help from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
The lawsuit was resolved last year after the Republican Governor of Kentucky changed state law to eliminate the need for clerks like Davis to authorise licenses.
As well as ending the legal battle, the Governor’s actions sparked a dispute as to who should fit the legal bill for the case – with the ACLU attempting to reclaim costs from Davis.
However, this week a judge rejected the ACLU’s bid to reclaim $230,000 in legal costs, on the grounds that they were not technically a “prevailing party” due to the resolution of the case.
This means that Davis, who had pro bono support from the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel, does not have to pay costs despite being the one in violation of the original law.
US Judge Edward Atkins on Monday wrote: “The plaintiffs are not ‘prevailing parties’ within the meaning of [the legal system] and are therefore not entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees.
“Upon the enactment of Kentucky Senate Bill 216, which removed the name of the county clerk from marriage license forms, all claims asserted in this action, including the pending appeals, were dismissed as moot, and the preliminary injunction, vacated.
“This voluntary conduct by the state changing the marriage license forms so that the county clerk, Kim Davis, was no longer required to sign the license, does not signal that the plaintiffs prevailed in the action, and cannot serve as the basis for an award of attorney’s fees.”
The Liberty Counsel hailed the victory.
It said: “The ACLU and others still want to punish Kim Davis for daring to take a stand for religious liberty, but today the court recognised that the ACLU does not deserve to get paid for its bullying.
“Kim Davis never violated her conscience, and she still has her job and her freedom—that is a win for Kim and for all Americans who want to perform public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberties.”
Evangelical law firm the Liberty Counsel rose to national prominence after providing free legal representation to embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, when she refused to carry out her duties because of same-sex marriage.
The group has more recently been secretly helping Republican lawmakers draft anti-LGBT legislation in a number of states, leading to a wave of anti-LGBT ‘conscience’ bills and ‘bathroom laws’ that exploit transgender issues as an excuse to strip back anti-discrimination protections.