The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) on Monday filed a lawsuit against Kentucky county clerk Kim
Davis in an attempt to recover legal fees stemming from a lawsuit
over her refusal to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to
gay and lesbian couples.
The ACLU is asking a federal court to
award it $233,058 to cover legal expenses associated with the
“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 civil rights violations by government
officials,” William Sharp, ACLU of Kentucky legal director,
in a statement.
“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,” he added.
Davis is being sued in her official
capacity as the clerk of Rowan County. The county is also named as a
defendant. That is, Davis is not being asked to personally pay the
Davis became a Christian celebrity when
she refused to let her office issue marriage licenses to gay couples
in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. She said that doing so would
violate her conscience.
The ACLU won a preliminary injunction
against Davis. But after Kentucky lawmakers approved a law that
removed the county clerk's name from such licenses, the lawsuit was
dismissed as moot.
Mat Staver, who represented Davis in
the action, called the ACLU's motion a “Hail Mary.”
“The case is now closed and the door
has been shut on the ACLU's attempt to assess damages against Kim
Davis,” he said in a statement.
The ACLU argued that its initial win
“is sufficient to confer prevailing party status” and the right
to recoup legal fees.