Kentucky taxpayers will still have to pay nearly $225,000 because Rowan County clerk Kim Davis couldn’t keep her religion to herself.
We learn in July that taxpayers would be on the hook for the bill because Davis illegally denied gay couples their marriage licenses in 2015, even though marriage equality was the law of the land. Two of those couples sued her, and U.S. District Judge David Bunning made very clear in July why the government owed the couples’ attorneys $222,695 in legal fees (plus a bit more for other costs).
“Davis represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky when she refused to issue marriage licenses to legally eligible couples. The buck stops there,” Bunning wrote.
“It is unfortunate that Kentucky taxpayers will likely bear the financial burden of the unlawful actions and litigation strategies of an elected official, but those same voters are free to take that information into account at the ballot box,” [legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky William] Sharp said.
Davis and her lawyer Mat Staver appealed the decision, saying it wasn’t her fault, but that was always a weak argument since this was totally her fault.
And now Bunning has essentially said the same thing in rejecting the appeal.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky is liable for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs because defendant Kim Davis acted on behalf of the Commonwealth when she refused to issue marriage licenses,” the judge wrote in his 14-page decision.
He continued, “At most, third-party defendants have simply — and improperly — re-argued matters that have previously been decided. That third-party defendants wish to avoid liability for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs hardly renders the circumstances extraordinary.”
More technically, Bunning noted that Davis’ team failed to point out any legal errors in the original judgment or why the penalty was unjust. It’s not that shocking, though, to learn that her Christian Right lawyers don’t actually understand the law… they just want to play pretend to raise money for their organizations.
At least it’s the proper ending to a case that Kentucky taxpayers brought upon themselves by electing Davis.