A federal judge ruled Monday that the state of Kentucky must pay more than $220,000 in legal fees resulting from a lawsuit against Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, who refused to sign the marriage certificates of same-sex couples.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, appealed an earlier ruling stating that taxpayers would be liable for her actions.
Three couples sued Davis after the embattled government official cited her faith beliefs as a reason to deny their marriage rights following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges. The 52-year-old would spend five days in jail following her arrestand has been tied up in lawsuits ever since her release.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning ruled earlier this year that Kentucky must pay for the court costs of plaintiffs in the case, as opposed to local government offices.
“[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,” Bunning wrote in a July 21 statement. “Therefore, Rowan County is not liable for Davis’s actions or Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. … The buck stops there.”
Bunning stood firm on his earlier ruling, dismissing the state’s appeal.
“[T]hird-party defendants have simplyand improperlyre-argued matters that have previously been decided,” the judge said in a strongly worded opinion. “That third-party defendants wish to avoid liability for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs hardly renders the circumstances extraordinary.”
In addition to the $222,695 in legal fees that will be awarded to the same-sex couples who sued Davis, the plaintiffs will receive an additional $2,008 to cover costs.
Davis, who identifies as an Apostolic Christian, most recently made headlines when she embarked on a nine-day tour of Romania to lobby in favor of a plebiscite banning same-sex marriage. She traveled to the Eastern European country on behalf of Liberty Counsel, the anti-LGBTQ lobby group who has defended Davis in her numerous lawsuits.
Liberty Counsel has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.