Federal Judge to ACLU Demanding Kim Davis Pay Its Legal Fees: Um, No, You Lost

Posted: Mar 10, 2017 11:30 AM

Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, will not have to pay the ACLU’s court fees, a federal judge ruled.

The ACLU sought the reimbursement of $231,000 in legal fees because "having to go through the expense of that litigation to secure a basic right that should not have been denied eligible couples in the first place — the ability to secure a marriage license and marry the person of their choosing,” the group argued.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Atkins denied the plaintiffs’ demand in Miller v. Davis because they did not win their case.

"The plaintiffs are not 'prevailing parties' . . . and are therefore not entitled to an award of attorneys' fees," Judge Atkins wrote. 

Davis argued that issuing licenses that had her name on them violated her conscience.

In December of 2015 Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed an executive order creating a new marriage license that no longer required county clerks’ names. In April of 2016, the Kentucky General Assembly unanimously made Bevin’s changes to the marriage license permanent.

"I am thankful to the legislators for passing this law, to Gov. Matt Bevin for signing it, to Liberty Counsel for representing me, and most of all to Jesus Christ who redeemed me and is my solid rock on which I stand," she said at the time.

"I am pleased that I can continue to serve my community as the Rowan County Clerk without having to sacrifice my religious convictions and conscience."

The Liberty Counsel said the ACLU’s effort to get Davis to pay their legal fees amounted to bullying.

“The ACLU and others still want to punish Kim Davis for daring to take a stand for religious liberty,” said Horatio Mihet, Liberty Counsel’s Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel, “but today the court recognized 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.”