Home » Education, Evolution » Favorable Court Ruling in California Lawsuit re Evolution Debate

Favorable Court Ruling in California Lawsuit re Evolution Debate

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE on October 26, 2005

Citizens Have Right to Present Proposed Evolution Policy at School Board Meetings

School Officials Must Answer in Court for Alleged Religious Discrimination

Sacramento, CA In an important legal victory for citizens seeking to improve how evolution is taught in public schools, a federal judge has ruled that California citizens have a Constitutional right under the First Amendment to put proposed evolution policies on the agenda of local school board meetings for public debate and potential adoption, and that school officials who refuse such a request are subject to potential civil rights remedies in federal court.

Said plaintiff Larry Caldwell, “The court’s ruling is a vindication of the constitutional right of California citizens to initiate public debate in school board meetings on the question of how we should teach evolution to our children.”

Added Caldwell, “This is a crucial educational policy issue that must be addressed if our children are to acquire the critical thinking skills they will need to compete in the Twenty-First Century.”

School officials of the Roseville Joint Union High School District have maintained that they have the right to deny citizens the opportunity to have a proposed education policy placed on a school board agenda. The court ruled that such a policy, if proven, would constitute illegal “viewpoint discrimination” under the Free Speech Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The legal ruling came in a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by parent activist and attorney Larry Caldwell, arising out of his year-long effort to persuade the Roseville Joint Union High School District to adopt his Quality Science Education Policy. The QSE Policy seeks to stimulate the critical thinking skills of students by including both scientific strengths and weaknesses of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in biology classes.

U.S. District Court Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr. also ruled that school officials who base their refusal on the actual or perceived religious beliefs or affiliations of the citizen proposing the policy also run afoul of the protections against religious discrimination in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In papers filed in the lawsuit, attorneys for school officials have admitted that their refusal for eight months to permit Caldwell’s proposed QSE Policy to be debated and voted on at school board meetings was based in part on Caldwell’s Christian religious beliefs.

Said Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute, a California pro-family, public policy group, “We are pleased that the court has recognized the constitutional right of California parents to participate in local school board meetings in a pro-active way. It is unfortunate that it has taken a lawsuit to get the leadership of the Roseville high school district to honor the constitutional rights of Mr. Caldwell and other citizens.”

Pacific Justice Institute, the Sacramento-based public interest organization, is acting as co-counsel with Caldwell in the lawsuit.

Contact: Larry Caldwell
Phone: 916-774-4667
[email protected]

[For court's order to dismiss, go here.]

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20 Responses to Favorable Court Ruling in California Lawsuit re Evolution Debate

  1. Wow…a little bit of my faith in this Country has just been restored.

  2. why do we always see ‘charles darwins’ theory when nearly all of darwins ideas have been debunked? darwin was nearly totally wrong…now even the mechanism (NS) has come under fire (even among self described neo-darwinists) and it might turn out that darwin was wrong about all of it.

  3. This is good news! I live in California and I can tell you it’s a very liberal state – a state where any religious tones are typically muted. It is typically muted by politicians at basically every level of government here. I know it doesn’t make sense that it should be that way, as ID isn’t a religous theory, but that’s typically the way it’s construed nevertheless, unfortunately.

    “why do we always see ‘charles darwins’ theory when nearly all of darwins ideas have been debunked?”

    And yet they’re used countless times again and again.

    “…now even the mechanism (NS) has come under fire (even among self described neo-darwinists) and it might turn out that darwin was wrong about all of it.”

    I don’t mind the teaching and advocation of evolution so long as other theories are allowed the same amount and kind of play. It becomes unfair when theories such as ID are muted in defense of staunchly supported theories such as evolution – that I have a problem with!

  4. “U.S. District Court Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr. also ruled that school officials who base their refusal on the actual or perceived religious beliefs or affiliations of the citizen proposing the policy also run afoul of the protections against religious discrimination in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In papers filed in the lawsuit, attorneys for school officials have admitted that their refusal for eight months to permit Caldwell’s proposed QSE Policy to be debated and voted on at school board meetings was based in part on Caldwell’s Christian religious beliefs.”

    This is the same kind of crap that ID proponents whom are religious go through. Just because Michael Behe is catholic doesn’t mean that ID is a catholic theory. It’s about time that evolutionists stop using the religious affiliations of ID proponents to argue their false definition of ID in such a way that defines it as a religous theory. I’m sure that if Darwin was a catholic, theorists wouldn’t be calling evolution a religous theory!

  5. That’s the 9th District, the most notoriously liberal court in the country. It must be some kind of trick. They’re trying to lull us into a false sense of security while they silently make it illegal for a church to refuse to marry two people of the same sex or something equally obnoxious.

  6. This is the same kind of crap that ID proponents whom are religious go through. Just because Michael Behe is catholic doesn’t mean that ID is a catholic theory. It’s about time that evolutionists stop using the religious affiliations of ID proponents to argue their false definition of ID in such a way that defines it as a religous theory. I’m sure that if Darwin was a catholic, theorists wouldn’t be calling evolution a religous theory!

    Isn’t interesting how Darwinists conveniently overlook that this door swings both ways. Somehow it is perfectly acceptable to label ID religious due to the religious affiliations of its proponents, yet no one (of the Darwinists at least) thinks that evolution is an atheistic theory, given how many of its proponents are atheists.

  7. mtgcsharpguy said:

    “its about time that evolutionist stop using the religious affiliations of ID proponents to argue their false definition of Id” But why should they when they get so much mileage out of it?

    It seems to me that just about every second entry on this site has to do with Id misrepresentation and us complaining about it. Why should the enemy change if it reaps results?

    What’s the solution? I think a good start would be to have a simple straight forward definition of ID that appears on all ID friendly web sites. Historically the ideas that succeed are ones that are simply presented and explained e.g darwinism. Let’s not simply complain about it let’s get a simple catchy working definition that encapsulates ID in a nut shell!

  8. Dave Scot,

    Don’t get your hopes up too far. The decision was by a district court judge. So if it is appealed, it would go to the notorious 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Then who knows what goofiness could occur?

  9. This victory goes a long way [ no doubt they will prob. appeal ] but just goes to show these arent they days of old.The D /E-wist’s cant any longer say just duck and cover right before the a or n bomb is going togo off eh ?. Some people have started to bulid a bunker or defence for the bombs that are coming and for those that have already come.

    Charlie

  10. Oh and who cares if they will appeal – im drifting on a high cus of the victory…
    oh yeah baby, oh yeah!!!!
    great job mr. caldwell :)
    Charlie

  11. William, sharpguy, anyone, do I raise a valid point???

  12. Petro -
    ” Let’s not simply complain about it let’s get a simple catchy working definition that encapsulates ID in a nut shell!”

    well i dont know about a simple catchy phrase that could catch ID in a nut shell cus that simple phrase would have to be irreducible complex none the less , lol :)

    Charlie

  13. the phrase was irreducibly complex

    Charlie

  14. Answers.com says of Darwin that “he was a religious man himself and once considered a career in the church…” Clearly, this fact proves decisively that his theory is a religious one cannot be taught in public schools on separation of church and state grounds.
    -sb

  15. jboze3131,

    your wrote that even NS is being called into question now. I know that whereas before I would have granted NS its status in microevolution, from what I’ve been readig lately, I’m not sure that even that is an effective mechanism at work in nature.

    Do you have citations, or web locations I can go to?

    And you’re right: Darwin was wrong about everything.

  16. NS is an extremely influential factor in evolution. It works to maintain the status quo (hindering evolution) by killing mutants. This it does reliably and unhindered by any need to have its actions “fixed” in the population.

    In a minor role it influences the frequency of preexisting alleles within the same species in effect “tweaking” the species to better fit the immediate environment.

    What it doesn’t do is act to collect and save small but favorable random mutations until the cumulative effect is to create a novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan. It is the creation of true novelty on the order of cells, tissues, organs, and body plans that defies explanation by non-directed means.

  17. Dave,

    I guess where I’m at now, is more or less what you’re describing. But I’m ready to go another step and to say that what you describe as NS, i.e., a mechanism which kills unwanted mutants (thus stabilizing the genome), is not NS. Basically what I’m saying is that it’s time to call it something else since it’s not really “selecting,” it’s eliminating something. Why don’t we call it “genome stabilization via elimination of defects through natural means”? I’m almost being silly here; but, seriously, let’s admit it, this is not what Darwin had in mind when he talked about NS: he saw NS acting to promote variations, not eliminate them. I know: let’s call it “NS”–Natural Stabilization.

  18. “Basically what I’m saying is that it’s time to call it something else since it’s not really “selecting,” it’s eliminating something.”

    Nature is “selecting” those that are the best able to survive.

  19. mtgccsharpguy,

    “Nature is “selecting” those that are the best able to survive.”

    I’m just not sure of that. Used to be. Only agents make choices and “select.” Here nature eliminates those that are unfit rather than “choosing” in a pro-active way. Obviously it some kind of feedback mechanism that’s involved, but there’s lots of feedback mechanisms in nature and in man-made contraptions: but we don’t use the language of “selecting” do we?

  20. “Somehow it is perfectly acceptable to label ID religious due to the religious affiliations of its proponents, yet no one (of the Darwinists at least) thinks that evolution is an atheistic theory, given how many of its proponents are atheists.”

    This comment touches on the core problem legally and politically:

    Many in the judiciary and the media think atheism occupies a special category which is (and properly should be) exempt from the normal workings of the “establishment” clause of the U.S. Constitution.

    As a result, they think it’s perfectly fine for the government to support scientific theories that are consistent with a non-theistic worldview. But, any theory that happens to be consistent with a theistic worldview should be strictly off limits for discussion, investigation, research, etc.

    Under this way of thinking, atheistic and anti-religious theories enjoy special protections; any theory, teaching, or research program that has even a faint whiff of theism is placed in an entirely different category, where it is subject to strict prohibitions against government funding, advocacy, etc.

    Then end result is that a constitutional provision that was intended to keep the government from taking sides in debates between different denominations (religions) has become an important factor favoring one side of any debate involving religious versus anti-religious views. This is affecting the ID vs. Darwinism debate, and it is also influencing many other legal issues. Consider, for example, differences in the legalities of government mention of “Christmas” versus “halloween.”

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