Reader John Runnels, a Louisiana Patent Attorney with a scientific and technical background far exceeding that of Seth Cooper and the other ID lawyers, sent me the Discovery Institute link to the latest creationism lawsuit, this one in California.
The lawsuit is filed by lawyer Larry Caldwell of Roseville California against the local school district and board members. The lawsuit arises out of Mr. Caldwell's proposal to present an alternative viewpoint to the teaching of evolution. The Proposal is a thinly disguised attempt to introduce the Discovery Institute Intelligent Design alternative to evolution. The suit is entertaining for a number of reasons. First, Mr. Caldwell apparently alleges that calling a person “Christian” is a form of epithet and intimidates that person into silence in public debates. He also alleges that identifying educational materials as “Christian” somehow violates the Establishment Clause. He doesn't mind identifying himself as a Christian, but he objects when other people do it.
Most humorous is his effort to distance himself from Intelligent Design. The suit doesn’t mention Intelligent Design” except to deny its involvement. Apparently Creationism’s Trojan Horse now needs its own Trojan Horse. This appears to be a "speciation event" in the long process of creationism's evolution.
Furthermore, the lawsuit appears to be directed more for media and public consumption than intended to convince a federal judge. Federal Judges have a habit of being offended by grandstanding complaints such as this one. For that reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if the federal judge summarily tosses the suit.
In any event, Mr. Caldwell alleges three causes of action in the Federal lawsuit, all alleging violations of 42 U.S.C 1983, the federal civil rights enforcement statute. He claims that the school board denied his right to free speech, violated the establishment clause, and he was denied equal protection under the 14th amendment.
Instead of forthrightly advocating the teaching of Intelligent design, his proffered plan teaches a "minority Scientific Viewpoint." Apparently Intelligent Design has become so well identified as a front for religious interference in schools that it can no longer be effectively used. The term du jour for "creationism" is has now become “Minority Scientific Viewpoint.“ I guess this could be termed a “speciation event” in the continuing evolution of “creationism.”
Mr. Caldwell defines “Minority Scientific Viewpoint” as “the scientific viewpoint held by a growing minority of credentialed professional scientists who are skeptical of the ability of random mutation and natural selection-the center piece of Darwin’s original theory of evolution_ to account for the complexity of life…” Complaint Paragraph 30. The lawsuit arises out of the school board's dismissal and alleged ridicule of his proposed plan to present this Minority Scientific Viewpoint” as part of the science curriculum. Caldwell decided to christen his proposal the QSE (Quality Science Education) Policy. His proposal is backed allegedly by a legal opinion by David DeWolf, a Discovery Institute linked faculty member at Gonzaga and backed by Cornelius Hunter, Ph.D., well known as a creationist. For some reason, the school board was not impressed by either Dr. Cornelius Hunter science opinions or Mr. DeWolf’s legal opinion, determining that they were religiously based.
The first 61 pages of the 96 page(!) complaint are a lengthy and irrelevant series of facts. These can be distilled into the following: (1) Caldwell presented his QSE for consideration; (2) The QSE was rejected because it was not good science but was essentially religiously motivated and inappropriate on that basis for a public school science curriculum; (3) some of the people opposing him raised their voices and called him bad names, like “Christian” and shared his e-mail with each other.
His legal claims are based on the argument that his free speech rights were violated by intimidation when he was publicly accused of being Christian, that the establishment clause was violated by an official government determination that his proffered materials were Christian, and finally, his right to equal protection under the law was violated by treating his materials summarily rather than giving them the attention they deserved.
This is a terrible complaint and in fact is a risky strategy because there may be yet another U.S. District Court ruling addressing the Christian motivation underlying all evolution attacks. Keep up the good work. I agree with Mr. Runnels that the complaint is unlikely to achieve its legal objectives. We can only hope that it will also fail to achieve its political and publicity objectives as well.