The famous — or infamous — Kentucky clerk Kim Davis doesn’t have to pay the legal fees of the gay couples who sued her.
In 2015, the Rowan County clerk was sued by four couples — two opposite-sex and two same-sex, backed by the ACLU — for refusing to issue marriage licenses to LGBT relationships on the grounds of her religion.
The following year, Kentucky lawmakers signed a bill into law, removing the marriage license requirement for a county clerk’s name and authorization. This resolved the court case.
The couple’s attorneys asked the court to make Davis pay roughly $233,000 in legal fees, while Davis’s lawyer wanted the request denied. U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Atkins denied the request, pointing out that the couples did not technically win the case.
“The plaintiffs are not ‘prevailing parties’ within the meaning of (the legal system) and are therefore not entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees,” the judge wrote, according to Pink News. “Upon the enactment of Kentucky Senate Bill 216, which removed the name of the county clerk from marriage license forms, all claims asserted in this action, including the pending appeals, were dismissed as moot, and the preliminary injunction, vacated. This voluntary conduct by the state changing the marriage license forms so that the county clerk, Kim Davis, was no longer required to sign the license, does not signal that the plaintiffs prevailed in the action, and cannot serve as the basis for an award of attorney’s fees.”
The Liberty Council, who supported Kim Davis pro bono, spoke out about the judge’s decision.
“The ACLU and others still want to punish Kim Davis for daring to take a stand for religious liberty, but today the court recognized that the ACLU does not deserve to get paid for its bullying,” the organization said in a news release. “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.”