Kim Davis Is Back And Losing All Of The Lawsuits
Welp, Kim Davis is back.
Don't worry, she isn't, like, running for public office, or even really doing much of anything. But she's back in the news, which means we had to remember that she exists, and that's never really a good time.
On the other hand, Davis is back in the news because she and the Commonwealth of Kentucky got their asses handed to them, and that actually IS a good time!
In a pair of decisions from the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Kim Davis got properly benchslapped for her blatant violation of the US Constitution.
Davis is represented in these cases by the nutjobs over at Liberty Counsel, the "religious liberty" organization that specializes in hate speech and discrimination. And it's always fun to watch them get smacked around a little, too.
Miller v. Davis
In Miller v. Davis, the ACLU represents four couples whose constitutional and civil rights were violated when Davis decided to go full homophobe and refuse to issue marriage licenses after Obergefell made marriage equality the law nationwide.
Back when this all happened, Kentucky's asshole Governor, Matt Bevin, praised Davis and called her bigotry "an inspiration ... to the children of America." And his general counsel said "Bevin doesn't believe Davis acted unconstitutionally and continues to support her actions." Despite that, the commonwealth tried to get out of footing the bill for Davis's indefensible actions, claiming Davis wasn't a state actor when she blatantly violated the law. On Friday, the Sixth Circuit said, "Sorry, Matt, it's time to pony up."
Here's how the court described what happened in Miller:
Under the "American Rule," parties typically pay their own attorney's fees. Congress created an exception, though, for plaintiffs who win cases against government officials over civil-rights violations. Here, plaintiffs applied for marriage licenses only to find that Kim Davis, who oversaw marriage licensing for Rowan County, Kentucky, wouldn't issue them. So they sued her for infringing their constitutional right to marry, and the district court ordered Davis to give them what they wanted. Once they obtained licenses (or chose not to seek them again), they chose not to pursue the lawsuit any further. But they did pursue attorney's fees, which the district court awarded and required the Commonwealth of Kentucky to pay.
The defendants tried to argue that no one should have to pay for the plaintiffs' attorneys fees, but the court shut them down pretty hard. The next issue was who should have to pay -- the commonwealth, the county, or Davis. Because issuing marriage licenses is the responsibility of the commonwealth, the court ruled Kentucky had to pay.
So the ACLU has a nice $222,695 coming its way, courtesy of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Ermold v. Davis
Ermold v. Davis is a second suit related to Davis's fuckery after Obergefell. That case is at a much earlier stage than Miller and the issue here was whether Davis can be sued by two other couples for violating their constitutional rights.
There's a shitty doctrine called qualified immunity that shields government officials from being sued for damages in a lot of circumstances. We could rant about it all day, but because we're here to celebrate Kim Davis being held accountable for her actions, we'll spare you. Suffice it to say, it helps shitty people get away with shitty things all the time.
But it doesn't apply here! As the court put it:
For a reasonable official, Obergefell left no uncertainty [about the law]. For Davis, however, the message apparently didn't get through. And it still doesn't appear to have gotten through: She now argues that Obergefell doesn't even apply to her conduct.
As you can probably tell from that language, the Sixth Circuit was not particularly amused with Davis's arguments, here.
But that's not all! Davis also tried to argue that Obergefell didn't apply to her, because the couples could have gone to other Kentucky counties to exercise their constitutional rights. The court didn't take kindly to that argument, either.
Davis provides no legal authority for that proposition. We can find none. And we know why: that's not how qualified immunity works, and that's not how constitutional rights work.
THAT'S NOT HOW THE CONSTITUTION WORKS, KIM!
It sucks that these cases have to be brought, but it's always great to see hateful assholes get what's coming to them. And the ACLU is about to get a $223,000 donation from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.