The ACLU has asked a federal court to award it $233,058 to cover the legal expenses incurred when Kim Davis broke the law and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In court documents filed Monday in the US District Court in Eastern Kentucky, the American Civil Liberties Union said its attorneys logged more than 600 hours and billed their time at $250 to $700 an hour.
ACLU of Kentucky legal director William Sharp said in a statement Monday that he wanted the fees to send a message about the high price of violating people’s rights.
“Courts recognize that when successful civil rights plaintiffs obtain a direct benefit from a court-ordered victory, such as in this case, they can be entitled to their legal expenses to deter future civil rights violations by government officials,” he said. “By filing today’s motion, we hope to achieve that very objective — to send a message to government officials that willful violations of individuals’ rights will be costly.”
Davis will not be held personally liable for the fees.
Buzzfeed explains that “Several of couples represented by the ACLU sued Davis, winning a preliminary injunction that suspended the no-marriage-license policy; yet Davis was later briefly jailed for violating a subsequent court order to end the policy.”
The ACLU has filed yesterday a “Hail Mary” request for attorney’s fees in the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who won her fight for religious freedom after a federal judge issued an order dismissing all three 2015 marriage license lawsuits against her. U.S. Judge David Bunning dismissed in their entirety, Miller v. Davis, Ermold v. Davis and Yates v. Davis, which brought to an end the trial proceedings against her arising from the 2015 Obergefell decision. At the request of Liberty Counsel on behalf of Kim Davis, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously dismissed the pending appeals.
Despite the ACLU’s attempt to continue the case against Kim Davis and assess damages against her, the federal district court dismissed the case, closed the files and ordered all the pending cases to be removed from the docket.
Now the three plaintiffs have each filed separate and coordinated requests: One filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals asking the Court to reverse its dismissal ruling; one filed in the district court asking Judge Bunning to reverse his dismissal ruling; and the ALCU filed a third pleading before Judge Bunning asking for an award of attorney’s fees.
“The plaintiffs have filed ‘Hail Mary’ requests to reverse the Court of Appeals and the district court, but both courts have dismissed the cases and closed the files on the Kim Davis case,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The ACLU is not entitled to attorney’s fees. Kim Davis won the case and the case is closed. County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty. The case is now closed and the door has been shut on the ACLU’s attempt to assess damages against Kim Davis,” said Staver.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed an executive order creating one marriage license form which does not require the county clerk’s name and title. The Kentucky General Assembly made Governor Bevin’s changes permanent with a bill that passed the State House with a 97-0 vote followed by a 36-0 vote in the State Senate. Bevin said his signature on the unanimous bipartisan legislation brought “statutory finality to the marriage license dilemma.”