Same-sex couple can seek damages from Kentucky clerk: U.S. appeals court




The couple
The couple's case had previously been thrown out.

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a damages lawsuit against Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who in 2015 refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it conflicted with her Christian beliefs.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said a lower court judge erred in finding that damages claims by David Ermold and David Moore became moot, after a new state law last July excused clerks like Davis, from Rowan County, from having to sign marriage license forms.

While the couple eventually did get a license, a three-judge appeals court panel said they could sue over Davis' initial refusal to grant one, after the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015 said the Constitution guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage.

"The district court's characterization of this case as simply contesting the 'no marriage licenses' policy is inaccurate because Ermold and Moore did not seek an injunction-they sought only damages," Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote. "The record does not support an argument that (their) damages claims are insubstantial or otherwise foreclosed."

Ermold's and Moore's case was sent back to U.S. District Judge David Bunning in Covington, Kentucky.

"The ruling keeps the case alive for a little while but it is not a victory for the plaintiffs," Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a Christian advocacy group representing Davis, said in a statement. "We are confident we will prevail."

Michael Gartland, a lawyer for Ermold and Moore, called the decision a "no-brainer," saying damages claims based on past harm often survive mootness challenges. His clients are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

"Do I think it's a million dollar case? Probably not," Gartland said in an interview. "The next step will be to go to discovery and go to trial, where I am confident we will obtain a judgment against Davis."

The refusal of Davis to issue licenses made her a national symbol for opposition to Obergefell v Hodges, the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

The case is Ermold et al v. Davis, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-6412.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump claims victory as US Supreme Court partially reinstates travel ban
Trump claims victory as US Supreme Court partially reinstates travel ban
  • World
  • 2017-06-26 17:32:54Z

The US Supreme Court on Monday partially reinstated Donald Trump's controversial travel ban targeting citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries, prompting the president to claim a victory for national security.

Top U.S. court to review scope of Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections
Top U.S. court to review scope of Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections
  • US
  • 2017-06-26 14:22:23Z

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to take up a case that promises broad implications for when corporate insiders who blow the whistle on alleged misconduct can be shielded from retaliation by their employers. The justices will hear Digital Realty Trust Inc's appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of Paul Somers, an executive who the San Francisco-based company fired after he complained internally about alleged misconduct by his supervisor but never reported the matter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

US high court looks to travel ban ruling and a possible retirement
US high court looks to travel ban ruling and a possible retirement

The White House declined to comment Sunday on speculation that a pivotal US Supreme Court justice might announce his retirement on Monday, the last day of the high court's current session. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has cast the decisive vote in some of the court's most far-reaching decisions, turns 81 next month and is widely believed to be thinking of retiring. One of those decisions could come Monday, if the nine justices are prepared to rule on a White House challenge to lower-court findings blocking Trump's attempt to limit travel from six predominantly Muslim countries.

U.S. top court set to rule on religious rights; travel ban looms
U.S. top court set to rule on religious rights; travel ban looms
  • US
  • 2017-06-25 11:02:46Z

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on Monday in a closely watched religious rights case involving limits on public funding for churches and other religious entities as the justices issue the final rulings of their current term. The nine justices are due to rule in six cases, not including their decision expected in the coming days on whether to take up President Donald Trump's bid to revive his ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries in which an emergency appeal is pending. Of the remaining cases argued during the court's current term, which began in October, the most eagerly awaited one concerns a Missouri church backed by a conservative Christian legal group.

Clue to Gorsuch
Clue to Gorsuch's ideology seen in pairings with Thomas

WASHINGTON (AP) - To see where Justice Neil Gorsuch might fit on the Supreme Court, watch the company he keeps.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.