Judge Rules State of Kentucky, Not Kim Davis, Must Pay Legal Fees of ‘Gay Marriage’ License Battle

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The state of Kentucky, not Kim Davis or the county in which she serves as clerk, must pay over $220,000 in legal fees and costs to the attorneys of the homosexuals that sued the Rowan County clerk over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals with her name appearing on them.

“[W]hen Davis made the unilateral decision to adopt a ‘no marriage licenses’ policy, she was acting as an agent of the Commonwealth, not Rowan County. Therefore, Rowan County is not liable for Davis’s actions or Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees,” wrote Judge David Bunning on Friday. “Davis represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky when she refused to issue marriage licenses to legally eligible couples. The buck stops there.”

He found that attorneys’ fees should be awarded because those who sued succeeded in the legal battle.

“Here, Plaintiffs obtained ‘excellent’ results. They sought to enjoin Davis from enforcing her ‘no marriage licenses’ policy, vindicate their fundamental right to marry, and obtain marriage licenses; and they did so,” Bunning wrote. “Focusing on the significance of the overall relief obtained by the plaintiff in relation to the hours reasonably expended on the litigation.”

The state must now pay $222,695 to cover the expenditures of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys who worked on the cases.

As previously reported, Davis had been in national headlines in 2015 after she declined to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses as long as her name was on the documents. Davis, who attends a Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal assembly, said that she would do so if her name was removed.

Her refusal soon led to three lawsuits—Miller v. Davis, Ermold v. Davis and Yates v. Davis—filed by homosexuals who sought to force Davis to issue the licenses.

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In September 2015, Bunning ordered that Davis issue the licenses, but as she continued to refuse without the accommodation, Bunning ordered that she be placed behind bars until she was willing to comply. In the meantime, the judge arranged for a deputy clerk to sign the licenses in her absence.

Davis was released from the Carter County Jail five days later after her attorneys filed an appeal of the contempt order, and also because Bunning was satisfied that her deputy clerks were providing the licenses instead. He stipulated her release on the condition that she not interfere with her deputies.

By the end of the year, new Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order for the Department for Libraries and Archives to release new licenses that do not cite the county or the name of the county clerk. Months later, the state legislature passed a law altering the licenses similar to Bevin’s order.

Bunning therefore dismissed the remaining suits against Davis after determining that their legal challenges were now moot. Soon after, the plaintiffs in the cases filed a motion requesting to be granted attorney’s fees and costs.

The matter was referred to U.S. District Judge Edward Atkins for a report and referral, and in March, he concluded that attorney’s fees were not recoverable because legislative changes—not a court ruling—brought an end to the legal matter, which was subsequently declared moot. Therefore, Atkins explained, the ACLU and the homosexuals it represented could not be considered the victors in the case.

“[T]he plaintiffs are not ‘prevailing parties’ within the meaning of § 1988, and are therefore not entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees,” he wrote. “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.”

However, on Friday, Bunning rejected Atkins’ report and recommendation, opining that those who sued Davis “won the war.”

“Legally eligible couples, whether same-sex or not, received marriage licenses in Rowan County after the court enjoined Davis from continuing her ‘no marriage licenses’ policy,” he noted—the point that served as the basis for the rest of his ruling, which ordered the state to pay for the ACLU’s legal costs and fees.

Davis’ attorneys disagree with the assessment and don’t believe that it can be said that the plaintiffs prevailed. They plan to appeal.

“The part of the ruling that finds the plaintiffs were prevailing parties is contrary to the law because the legislature mooted the case by passing a law that provides for the precise religious liberty accommodation Kim Davis sought,” Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel said in a statement. “While Kim Davis and Rowan County are not liable for fees and costs, neither is the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and this aspect of the ruling will be appealed.”

“Without prevailing party status, there can be no attorneys’ fees.”


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  • Amos Moses – He>i

    Good news ………..

    • Bob Johnson

      Agreed, those who fight for our legal rights not only won their day in court, but the government will have to pay their expenses for the government’s failure.

      • Sisyphus

        I simply just have to say this, I am the new number 2, you are number 6. Be seeing you. 🤔

        • Bob Johnson

          Which Number 2? None of them lasted very long.

          Ah, that would be telling.

          • Sisyphus

            I am not a number, I am a free man, Ahhhhahaha!

  • Jim Hall

    Great News! The State of Kentucky will be held accountable for allowing this woman to make a mockery of our constitutional government. Now if only Trump could be made accountable!

    • Fang

      The opinions of some stoner are absolutely worthless.
      Drug abusers are not capable of rational thought.

    • tigersfan61

      What has Trump done in his capacity as President that he needs to be held accountable for?

      • zampogna

        Let me count the ways.
        Actually just look at all the different things he’s trying to prevent himself from being investigated for. That’s a start.

  • The General

    Those creeps should never be paid one red cent. The sleazy little publicity hos should pay their own bill. You make the trouble, you pay the bill. That’s real social justice there. That’ll send a clear message to other trouble-makers.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      I agree. And in this case, Kim Davis made the trouble in her capacity as an agent of the government. Ergo, the State of Kentucky needs to pay.

      • Reason0verhate

        Get your “LGBT community” to pay for it. Show some solidarity with your HIV sisterhood, since you don’t have any children that you have to support.

        • Ambulance Chaser

          Umm, what?

          A) I’m not gay
          B) I do have children
          C) The LGBT Community is not an organized entity and can’t pay for anything
          D) The ACLU was the prevailing party in this suit, not the “LGBT Community” (whatever that is)
          E) On what grounds should the state not pay?

      • james blue

        Isn’t she a county clerk, elected in local county elections, not a state clerk?

        • Sisyphus

          Counties, by definition, are extensions of the state wherein they are located. Same with cities and towns. Take a civics class.

          • james blue

            WOW Sherlock. Well by that logic aren’t states an extension of the nation they are located in?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            No, because they’re not analogous. But in any case, I did a quick read through of the ruling, and the judge seems to have held that Davis was performing a state function in her role issuing marriage certificates.

          • james blue

            I disagree on the grounds that she was a locally elected official that the state has no control over. Tax payers from other counties had no say in her election.

            This wasn’t state policy, it was a rouge elected clerk who could not be fired by the state.

            Thinking about it I’d like to amend my previous statement to say that Ms. Davis should bear full financial responsibility as it was a personal decision and the county had no means to remove her as an elected official.

          • Ben Brigs

            There you go…. : )

          • Sisyphus

            Disobeying the law provides a means to remove an elected official.

          • james blue

            She was elected, the county could not fire her, the governor could not fire her. She could only be subject to a recall election or face articles of impeachment, which is not an easy process. Can you point to the actual LAW she broke? She certainly failed to carry out the duties of her office, but this was a civil case, not a criminal one.

          • Sisyphus

            Apparently I’m not 100% versed in Kentucky law. I do try to steer around that hillbilly hee-haw hell.

          • Blake Paine

            The Kentucky oaths of office are codified in law.

          • Sisyphus

            To the degree it doesn’t violate the 10th Amendment, states are an extension of the Federal government in that they rely on and are governed by Federal law. Were Davis not been violating state law, she could have been culpable in the violation of Federal Civil Rights.

          • Jason Todd

            But marriage isn’t a civil right.

          • Sisyphus

            There are civil rights attached to the institution of marriage.

          • Netizen_James

            Yes, it is. See Loving v Virginia.

          • Jason Todd

            Unconstitutional. See Tenth Amendment.

          • Blake Paine

            No we are a republic. The states administer their counties, not the federal government.

          • Sisyphus

            That is not what “republic” means, you probably meant confederation.

          • Blake Paine

            True.

          • Netizen_James

            In most countries, that’s exactly the case.
            But not in the USA, where states are considered ‘semi-sovereign’.

            The inherent paradox of ‘shared sovereignty’ is at the heart of our country’s jurisprudence. I am both a Citizen of the State of New York and a US Citizen. Both entities are ‘sovereign in their spheres’.

    • james blue

      So when liberty council or ADF take counties to court they should pay their own bills?

    • Etranger

      The only publicity “hos” we ever saw were Davis and and LC. I have never seen the plaintiffs in the case. All they wanted was a document they had a legal right to get. Period.

      “You make the trouble, you pay the bill. ” Agreed! Davis made the trouble. Unfortunately the taxpayers for whom she works will pay the bill 🙁

      • Jason Todd

        Davis did no such thing. She didn’t say no same-sex couple would be given a marriage license. She said she didn’t want her name on them.

        And by the way, it was the couple who drove in from another county, in the company of the media, that started it. They came there solely to pick a fight.

        • Etranger

          And the ho milked it for all she could! In any event, she refused to do her job and the courts found correctly against her.

          • Jason Todd

            1) Kim Davis is not a “ho.”

            2) Milked? Milked What?

            3) She didn’t refuse to do anything. She just didn’t want her name on the same-sex marriage certificates.

            4) She won.

          • Etranger

            1) I am just using the terminology the general used. Still fits the bill.
            2) Milked the publicity for all she could and became the poster child for the LC fundraising, got some fame (probably a big thing for a small town KY gal!)
            3) She did refuse to have her office issue marriage licenses. Read the cases before you say stupid things.
            4) How?

          • Bob Johnson

            “became the poster child for the LC fundraising,”

            So Liberty Counsel raised funds from Christians to pay for Kim’s defense. Lost and in addition to those funds, the taxpayers of Kentucky (mostly Christians) will need to pay another 220,000 dollars to the ACLU. At this rate now long can Christians keep winning?

            Update: “We lose a little on each deal, but we makeup for it with volume.”

          • Etranger

            They are doing pretty well. They aren’t paying the plaintiff’s legal fees – the poor taxpayers are! And I am certain they raised much more money than needed to represent her. Not saying they are good lawyers with all the losing, but definitely good con artists!

          • Jason Todd

            1) Who is “the general?” Are you saying anyone that moves due to conscience or conviction is a “ho?”

            2-3) You have no idea what you are talking about.

            4) You didn’t read this article, did you?

          • Etranger

            Sounds good. I can’t talk to someone who has not read the cases, the article, or the discussion thread.

          • Jason Todd

            So your response is a troll? Really?

            Blocked.

          • Etranger

            My “response is a troll”?! That is actually meaningless…glad you are blocking me so I don’t need to hear from you again! woohoo – great day!

        • Michael C

          And by the way, it was the couple who drove in from another county, in the company of the media, that started it.

          Huh. What? Seriously. Are you aware that you’re lying or do you just not care?

          Four couples, all residents of Rowan County, all denied marriage licenses, brought the lawsuit against Davis and the County.

          • Jason Todd

            Yeah, it was two homosexuals named David that apparently started this crap. They may have been from Rowan County.

          • Michael C

            That’s very nice, Jason.

          • Jason Todd

            Glad you think so.

  • james blue

    I disagree with this. Ms. Davis and Rowan county should be liable, although I feel for the tax payers of Rowan county.

    • 0pus

      Faux compassion.
      Lefties care for no one but themselves.

      • Amos Moses – He>i

        Whiners gonna whine …..

      • james blue

        What comparison did I make?

        Do righties not care for anyone but themselves?

  • George Betancourt

    Yay for Christians and faggot loving fudgepackers. Davis should take her appeal of being encarcerated to the supreme Court for religious persecuted from a court bench.

    • Blake Paine

      She violated her oaths as an elected official and a court order to obey them. If her conscience wouldn’t let her obey her oaths she should have resigned. Justice Scalia said that about judges who’s conscience wouldn’t let them impose the death penalty – there’s a right to conscience not a right to be a particular government job.

      Ultimately the state should have ensured the citizens were treated legally but it was the federal government that had to make that happen. The state is liable for its failure.

      • Jason Todd

        What did she violate?

        • Ben Brigs

          Her oath to perform her duties as listed… handing out marriage licenses to qualified couples were part of those duties….

          • Jason Todd

            Again, WHAT did she violate?

          • Bob Johnson

            To uphold the laws of the state of Kentucky.

          • Blake Paine

            Her oaths of office to uphold the Constitution and treat all impartially, even if they didn’t share her beliefs.

          • Ben Brigs

            Did you fall and hit your little head on the sidewalk? Her oath… her promise to fulfill her duties…

          • Jason Todd

            She did no such thing. Been over this already. Two days too late. Move on.

          • Ben Brigs

            She stopped handing out licenses.. she was remiss in her duties. What?

        • Blake Paine

          The two oaths of office she took as an elected official. One that all elected officials take and another all county clerks take.

          • Jason Todd

            Notice it doesn’t say without conscience. She conscientiously objected as a Christian to validating same-sex marriage and therefore didn’t want her name on the marriage certificates.

            The First Amendment says Kim Davis had a right to do that.

            You don’t agree because you think Christians should be subservient to the sexually deviant and mentally ill.

            No.

          • Bob Johnson

            “You don’t agree ….”
            And more importantly neither do the judges.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            No, it doesn’t and that has been ruled repeatedly by the Supreme Court, including when Kim Davis herself tried to ask the Court to hear her appeal in this very matter.

            You can’t simply make up your own set of rules every time you don’t like the way the game is going.

          • Blake Paine

            It doesn’t need to, she was sworn to treat all without favor, affection, or partiality’. That means serving those who don’t share here beliefs about marriage as if they did.

            The first amendment says the citizens who come to the government- Davis – have s right to impartial treatment regardless of their legal beliefs about marriage. She WAS the government and acted unConstitutionally.

            And a Christian would never have broken their oath to begin with. If they felt they couldn’t keep it they’d resign as Justice Scalia said they would.

          • Jason Todd

            The First Amendment says Congress cannot create its own religion or keep people from practicing theirs. Kim Davis was exercising that right.

            Obviously you have a problem with that.

          • Blake Paine

            Kim Davis was the government, she swore two oaths to not do what she did.

            That you think the government can treat citizens differently because of their beliefs shows just how little you understand about the situation.

  • zampogna

    Well, THIS should make her real popular with the people of her state.

  • Laurel

    How the world defines the word “marriage” is different than the way
    God defines it. For all intents and purposes, what the world calls
    marriage is simply a corporate business contract, which can be dissolved
    at one’s convenience. While I think it would be good to help Kim Davis
    in this matter (a GoFund me page, for example); while she was employed
    at that government office it was her duty to do her job as defined by
    civil law. In the Bible, Jesus and his disciples were under the civil
    law and had to pay tax, and they were obedient in this. 1Peter 2:13-16
    says :

    13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
    14
    Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment
    of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
    15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
    16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

    As Christians, we are expected to obey the civil laws, but not if those
    laws would cause us to transgress against God. I say without judgement
    that I would not have chosen the job Kim Davis did because of these
    conflicts, but I’m sure she didn’t expect this circumstance. However,
    nowhere in the Bible is a license, or bill of marriage, ever mentioned
    or made a requirement. Worldly marriage and Biblical marriage defined
    by God are two different things entirely.

    • Michael C

      I agree with much you have said but I just have a couple counterpoints to make.

      While I think it would be good to help Kim Davis
      in this matter (a GoFund me page, for example);

      There is no reason to start a fundraiser for Kim Davis. Davis has not been required to pay a dime for anything. The state government, or more precisely the taxpayers are on the hook for the plaintiff’s legal fees, not Davis. Davis wasn’t required to pay her own lawyers either, they made more than enough money fundraising off her losing case. I don’t think Davis was ever even fined. This whole thing has cost her absolutely nothing and she still holds her public position making twice the average income in Kentucky.

      …but I’m sure she didn’t expect this circumstance.

      Unfortunately, this isn’t true. I think you give her more credit than she may deserve.

      The Kentucky ban on the legal recognition of the marriages of gay couples was struck down months before Kim Davis was elected to her position. She was well aware of the strong possibility that she would be required by law to issue marriage certificates to gay couples while she was still campaigning for the position. She accepted the job knowing full well that she would be unwilling to perform all of the functions required.

      • Laurell

        Yes. My bad. I misunderstood what I read. You are absolutely right.

      • Jason Todd

        But that’s not the point, is it? She had the right to say NO, regardless.

        • Michael C

          Sure, if she didn’t want this job, no one was forcing her to stay.

          • Jason Todd

            Drop the “Serve against your conscience or religion or quit” horsecrap.

            If the answer is no, that’s the end of it. Or at least it should be in the United States of America.

          • Michael C

            Drop the “Serve against your conscience or religion or quit” horsecrap. If the answer is no, that’s the end of it. Or at least it should be in the United States of America.

            Okay.

          • zampogna

            Don’t let Jason push you around.

          • Michael C

            meh. He stated his opinion. I think that deserves an ‘okay’ whether or not it’s correct or even relevant.

          • zampogna

            He’s so utterly rude about everything he says I don’t think he’s earned much respect from anyone. But I admire your cool.

          • Michael C

            Patting him on the head is less effort than fruitlessly trying to explain stuff. …so I’m basically just lazy. …or economical.

          • zampogna

            I bow to your longevity and your tact. Clearly it is a working formula.

          • Etranger

            “so I’m basically just lazy” Watch out – you may wind up like Davis – she essentially was just a lazy employee. Wanted a paycheck for not doing anything!

            (just playing around, I know you would never be that bad)

          • Jason Todd

            It’s both. Bologna can shut his piehole.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            So anybody who doesn’t want to do something that’s part of their job can just say “This violates my conscience,” and poof! they’re now free from having to do it? Without consequences, termination, demerits, etc.?

          • zampogna

            Aren’t we lucky to have you to tell us how things should be.

          • Blake Paine

            Nope he government can’t just refuse to serve a citizen as required by law.

          • Jason Todd

            That’s not the issue, and if it was the government should stay out of it.

          • Blake Paine

            Kim Davis was the government, that is entirely the issue.

          • Jason Todd

            She is also a private citizen. With the same rights as you and I. She did not sign them away by becoming a county clerk. You need to get that in that thick skull of yours.

          • Blake Paine

            Of course she has the right to have beliefs incompatible with government service, many faiths do in a nation where the government cannot religiously discriminate.

            Her beliefs won’t allow her act as a government representative she must resign. It’s the only moral course.

          • Jason Todd

            Baloney. Complete.

          • Blake Paine

            Sorry, a government official can’t say they aren’t going to serve someone and be keeping their oaths as I demonstrated. As a government representative of Kentucky, the state is responsible for her transgressions and should pay the fine.

          • Jason Todd

            Thank for showing your bigotry and disregard for Kim’s rights.

          • Blake Paine

            There is no right for a representative government to treat citizens contrary to their oath of office.

          • Jason Todd

            I could say you are wrong once again, but when have you been right?

          • Blake Paine

            Ah, you’re just a troll.

            See ya

          • Jason Todd

            Project much?

          • james blue

            So can clerks refuse to issue marriage licenses to Christians? Can a Muslim DMV clerk refuse to issue driver licenses or voter ID to women?

  • NCOriolesFan

    Not Kentucky, the FEDS instead. They made SSM an issue, not Kentucky.

    • LinCA

      Kentucky, along with a number of other states had unconstitutional laws on their books. After SCOTUS struck those laws down, these states should have instructed their officers to comply with the US Constitution.

      Generally, the oath of office includes something along the lines of supporting the US Constitution. Specifically, the oath of office for Kentucky starts with. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States” – Section 228, Kentucky Constitution

      The State of Kentucky should have removed Davis, the moment she violated her oath of office.

      • NCOriolesFan

        Voting is a Constitutional right. There is NOTHING constitutional about marriage straight or deviant. Another SCOTUS ‘right’ from their imagination.

        • LinCA

          There is NOTHING constitutional about marriage straight

          So re a constitutional scholar? Better versed in what the US Constitution says, and doesn’t than those that have been put in charge of being the final arbiters about it?

          You must really hate the freedoms that are granted under it, don’t you? You must really hate the US, and the principles upon which it was founded, don’t you? Would you prefer a theocracy? Live by “god’s law”? Maybe you should try living in Iran or Afghanistan for a while.

  • http://maxfurr.com HobbesianWorld

    So the County Clerks in the Commonwealth of Kentucky get to set policy. WOW. So, the law was changed to make the case moot. Did it make moot, as well, the law against her OATH of office to abide by State/county law? The clerk was, in fact, violating her oath of office and should have been fired that same day.

    Still, I do understand that most of governing structure of Kentucky is replete with fundamentalists. That’s why Christians have special rights to harm others because of their religious convictions (e.g., the new “religious freedom” law that allows christian students to discriminate against LBGTQ students.

    That’s also how Ken Ham got the State to enhance structural access to his Ark Park and give him $18 million in tax breaks (ultimately taxpayer money).

    Full disclosure: The State recently rescinded the $18 million because Ark Encounters violated the agreement by executing a quitclaim deed transferring the Ark Project land, with all the privileges and appurtenances to the same, from Ark Encounter, LLC, a for-profit company, to Crosswater Canyon, Inc. a non-profit company. This was a move designed to evade a tax on ticket sales. The park is quick to take taxpayer money, but is not keen on paying it back.

    One has to wonder just how much more taxpayer money is going to Christian organizations in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. I’m fairly sure the state of Virginia and most other Southern States carry on the same injustice.

    • Charlene

      What happens in this country is none of your business.

      Old women are bad about meddling.

      • http://maxfurr.com HobbesianWorld

        What happens in this country is none of your business.

        “This country?” Last time I looked Kentucky was a part of the United States, a country with a Constitution that forbids any government officials to disobey laws because of their religious beliefs. Therefore, your “country” is my country as well, and what some misguided fundamentalist clerk gets away with in Kentucky will be attempted in other states, especially in Virginia where religious social-conservatives are quick to make laws, or try to make laws, that control the liberty of citizens according to those conservatives’ religious beliefs.

        Do you think that government agents should be able to refuse their sworn duties by religious adjudication? If so, does that apply to a Muslim clerk who refuses to serve women who are not wearing a hijab? How about an atheist clerk who refuses to serve a person wearing a cross pin or a Jesus hat?

  • peanut butter

    I’ve been waiting, hoping for this. Hope it sticks!

  • Dianne

    May the LORD JESUS CHRIST completely vindicate Kim Davis. The LORD REBUKE any financial gain for the wicked.

    Proverbs 10:24 The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.