Kentucky Taxpayers Must Foot Bill in Kim Davis Case

FILE – In this Sept. 1, 2015, file photo, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office’s refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

ASHLAND, Ky. (CN) – A federal judge ruled Monday that Kentucky taxpayers are still on the hook for attorney fees for the couples who sued Kim Davis, a county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

In July, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Kentucky to pay $222,695 to the attorneys of April Miller and others, after they won a favorable judgment against Davis. Bunning also awarded an additional $2,008 in other costs.

Gov. Matt Bevin and Terry Manuel, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for the Libraries and Archives, appealed the ruling, claiming the fees should be assessed against Davis and the Rowan County Clerk’s Office.

The governor and commissioner, who were third-party defendants in the case, argued that Davis did not represent Kentucky when she acted against the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges because her behavior was not directed or approved by any state official.

Bunning once again found the argument unpersuasive, and rejected the appeal on Monday.

“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.”

Davis became national news in the summer of 2015, after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The saga resulted in Davis being jailed for several days after she was found in contempt.

She has claimed her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevented her from issuing the licenses.

In the months and years following her actions, Davis has been at the center of numerous legal proceedings. In September, Bunning ruled that two lawsuits from same-sex couples seeking damages could proceed against the clerk, but only in her individual capacity.

Despite these legal setbacks, Davis has continued her crusade against gay rights and recently visited Romania, where she advocated against gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is currently not legal in Romania, but some conservative politicians there want to specifically ban it via a constitutional amendment.

Her trip to Romania was sponsored by the Liberty Counsel, a conservative American legal group, who has also provided legal counsel for Davis in the past.

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