The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — a non-profit group specializing in constitutional law — has asked a federal court to reward it $233,058 for the resources it spent representing clients who opposed Kim Davis, the infamous Kentucky state clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions nationwide.
Even though Davis wouldn’t have to pay the $233,058 personally, the ACLU said they hope “to send a message to government officials that willful violations of individuals’ rights will be costly.” When the ACLU filed suits against Davis in 2015, the courts dismissed their cases after Davis’ office began issuing licenses while she sat in jail for refusing to do so in defiance of a court order. Later on, Kentucky passed a law no longer requiring clerks to sign marriage licenses, rendering the ACLU’s case moot.
Upon release from prison, Davis became the darling of the Christianist right, appearing at a press conference with anti-LGBTQ Republican politicians Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. She also got legal help from the Liberty Counsel, a group that supports laws criminalizing sodomy and homosexuality.
The Liberty Council says that the courts’ dismissal of the ACLU’s case renders the ACLU ineligible to recoup any losses, but the ACLU says that because they helped secure a judge’s preliminary injunction against Davis, that gives them the right to recoup legal costs.
We love the idea of of Davis having to pay for her hypocritical Christian stance (she had also married four times, something else forbidden by her religion), but if the ACLU wins, Kentucky taxpayers will be the ones to pay. That’s particularly interesting when you consider that in March 2015 (three months before the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality), a poll showed 57 percent of Kentuckians opposed to same-sex marriage; an October 2016 poll showed that 51 percent of state voters wanted Davis to issue same-sex marriage licenses, no matter her personal beliefs.
Although we haven’t seen state polling on same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court settled the issue, the polls suggest that Kentucky is still somewhat sympathetic to Davis’ plight.