The National Organization for Marriage is not entitled to recoup $691,025.05 in attorneys' fees spent on a case over disclosed tax records, a federal court in Virginia has ruled. It's just the latest in a long string of losses for the once-formidable antigay organization.
NOM claimed that the IRS intentionally or negligently leaked the identities of its large donors, and demanded damages from the government. For its part, the IRS admitted an accidental leak, but denied intentionally or negligently providing the information.
After initially settling with the government for $50,000, NOM went further and filed a motion for attorneys' fees.
The court was forced to employ a complicated method to determine whether NOM was entitled to any fees. First, it found that NOM did a poor job of accounting for its compensatory damages, first making a claim that they lost $50,000 in donations and then later withdrawing that claim. The court also found that NOM experienced a "lack of success" in proving that it was entitled to the damages that it sought, which indicates a general weakness in its case.
Second, the court found that NOM was completely unable to prove its accusation of "willful and grossly negligent misconduct." The court also scolded NOM for attempting to conflate the government's accidental disclosure with an intentional disclosure that never actually happened.
Ultimately, NOM was undone by its over-reach. By making an unreasonable demand for a large amount of money, and by making claims that the group simply couldn't prove, NOM effectively invalidated its request for attorneys' fees. Had NOM litigated more modestly, it might have prevailed -- but instead, this latest ruling adds just one more example to NOM's ever-growing list of failures.
As further evidence of just how quickly NOM is losing its foundational battle, get up to speed on the latest marriage equality news nationwide below: