“In a perfect world, Liberty Counsel would be on the hook for at least some of the legal fees. Staver told Davis not to obey a court order and Staver protracted the litigation.”

Kim Davis and Mat Staver
Kim Davis and hate group leader Mat Staver

Image: News Observer

Four years later, Mad Mat Staver cannot accept the simple fact that Kim Davis lost and the ACLU is owed nearly a quarter-million dollars in legal fees from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Thursday, the hate group leader (Liberty Counsel) is making oral arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. According to Mad Mat:

The cases of Ermold v. Davis, Yates v. Davis, and Miller v. Davis center on whether the plaintiffs are entitled to attorney fees and/or damages, and, if so, whether the Commonwealth, Rowan County, or Kim Davis is liable for payment.


The lower court ruled [July 21, 2017] Davis cannot be liable for damages in her official capacity but allowed the case to proceed against her individually. … Since Davis requested a religious accommodation (which had never before been litigated and was later provided by Governor Bevin and the legislature), she would not have violated a clearly established law.

Staver might have forgotten Davis’ boast that her office would never issue a same-sex marriage license. Her clear intent was to frustrate the constitutional rights of citizens. Even if she should have received a religious accommodation (as Eugene Volokh, a supporter of marriage equality, argued) she should have allowed deputies to issue the licenses in the interim.

Staver eventually claimed that Davis’ objection was that her name was on the license application. If you think about it, it made no sense at all. So what? The fact that Bevins made a political decision to remove the clerks’ names is irrelevant.

I think that even Mad Mat Staver realizes that someone has to cough up those legal fees. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is trying to have it both ways. He claims to be a supporter of Davis but is allowing his lawyers to argue otherwise.

In briefs, outside lawyers for Bevin say former Rowan County clerk Kim Davis broke the law and taxpayers “should not have to collectively bear the financial responsibility for Davis’ intransigence.”

Arguing that the Commonwealth should not bear the costs, those lawyers say: “Only Davis refused to comply with the law as was her obligation and as required by the oath of office she took.”

Davis and Bevin are now adversaries in court, pointing fingers at each other regarding liability for the legal fees.

Mad Mat has an explanation. He told the Associated Press that the arguments are those of the lawyers who were hired before Bevin took office. Governor Bevin, according to Staver, disagrees with those lawyers. Sure Mat. The governor has no control over the lawyers that the state is paying.

In-house counsel for the governor, Steve Pitt, claimed that Bevin took no position as to whether or not Davis acted unconstitutionally. Then Pitt said that Bevin was of the opinion that Davis did not act unconstitutionally. Then he said: “Our outside counsel have only argued, given the court’s ruling, that if constitutional rights were violated, the taxpayers of Kentucky are not responsible to pay the ACLU’s attorney fees.”

In a perfect world, Liberty Counsel would be on the hook for at least some of the legal fees. Staver told Davis not to obey a court order and Staver protracted the litigation. Since Davis acted recklessly, she should be personally liable. I am satisfied as long as the ACLU finally gets what is due.

Related content:

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.