The case against Kim Davis, a former Kentucky county clerk who spent several days in jail for refusing to sign the marriage licenses of same-sex couples, may have the potential to overturn the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, her legal counsel told Fox News Digital.
Kim Davis, a devout Christian, found herself in the midst of national controversy in 2015 when she refused to sign the marriage licenses of same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman. Now years later, a federal judge ruled the former clerk must pay $260,000 in legal fees and expenses to plaintiffs David Ermold and David Moore. The case is up for appeal.
"The plaintiffs in this case are part of a larger agenda that are intent on punishing people of faith who hold the values that marriage is the union of a man and a woman." Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver told Fox News on Thursday. "While it appears at this stage that they have been able to succeed, this case now is set up that it could possibly be the undoing of the very case that started this whole matter and that's Obergefell v. Hodges from 2015 that has no basis in the Constitution."
Staver told Fox News Digital that Davis "loves all people" and came to God after her mother-in-law, on her deathbed, told Davis to get her life in order and go to church. Her visit to satisfy her mother-in-law's wishes deeply moved her.
"She heard about God's forgiveness and grace and committed her life to the Lord and it dramatically changed her," Staver shared.
"...She has no ill will towards anyone and even after the jury verdict came in with $100,000 for the Ermolds, she still has no ill will against the Ermolds. She has no personal animosity. She is an amazing woman and she is a gentle woman."
Liberty Counsel will argue that Davis, who "could not bring herself to violate her deeply held Christian beliefs," was entitled to a religious accommodation under the First Amendment. A separate case against her did not find Davis liable to pay any monetary damages for her actions.
"Clerks in Kentucky (were) ... provided conscience opt-outs for hunting and fishing licenses," Staver explained. "Kim Davis wanted a conscience opt-out for the same-sex marriage licenses."
The attorney said former Governor Beshear gave a conscience opt-out to his attorney general when he said he could not defend the state's marriage amendment, but would not do the same for Davis. The clerk was ultimately given accommodation by executive order under Governor Matt Bevin and in April 2016, the legislature unanimously gave accommodation to all clerks to be able to opt out.
Liberty Counsel will also state the Ermolds’ arguments for monetary compensation are based on unfounded claims.
"During the trial, Ermold’s intention that he was terminated from the University of Pikeville because of Kim Davis was rebutted by the director of human resources for the University of Pikeville who said his termination had nothing to do with Kim Davis, that he was part of a budget cutting procedure that they did with a lot of different departments," Staver said. "Then they switched over to they had hurt feelings and they did not present any evidence of that. You can't get damages based on hurt feelings without showing some evidence, corroborating evidence, medical evidence and psychological evidence. They presented nothing."
Michael Gartland of DelCotto Law Group, who represented the couple, said the ruling was "no surprise" and the counsel "fully expected (to) get one hundred cents on the dollar," according to the Courier Journal.
The legal counsel told USA Today that his clients "couldn't be happier" with the ruling and was "shocked" a separate couple that sued Davis was not awarded money.
Gartland suspects the case will continue "for another year to two years" and will "(seek) to collect the judgment against her unless she pulls it off and that might include a lawsuit against her counsel," USA Today reported.
The case, if it reaches the Supreme Court, would be heard by justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito who dissented to Obergefell vs. Hodges; Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen who affirmed the decision; and four newly appointed justices.