Remember Kim Davis? She was the county clerk in a small town Kentucky town who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples back in 2015, citing her Christian beliefs.
Davis spent six days in a county jail for contempt of court after refusing to perform job duties that conflicted with her religious principles, a move that earned her a place in the national spotlight, a meeting with Pope Francis, and best friend status with former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
To respect the religious beliefs of clerks like Davis, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin later signed an executive order amending the state’s marriage licenses to no longer include a clerk’s name. And while her deputy clerks still issued marriage licenses to gay couples, Davis was ultimately exempted from doing so, provided she didn’t interfere with their work.
But the fact that gay couples could now legally obtain licenses from others in the courthouse wasn’t enough for the ACLU, who represented four of the six gay couples who were denied a marriage license by Davis before her incarceration. The group demanded the court fine Davis for not issuing licenses and ultimately force her to do so at the risk of her own job, a request that was ultimately thrown out.
The ACLU then asked the court to require Davis to cough up $231,000 in resulting legal bills, claiming they’d racked up the amount from "having to go through the expense of that litigation to secure a basic right that should not have been denied eligible couples in the first place — the ability to secure a marriage license and marry the person of their choosing.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Atkins on Thursday denied the request, noting that the ACLU never actually won its court battle and was therefore not entitled to remuneration.
“[T]oday the court recognized that the ACLU does not deserve to get paid for its bullying,” said Horatio Mihet, Liberty Counsel’s Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel, in a statement. “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.”
Another swing and a miss for a group whose chief concern has nothing to do with "liberty."