Amicus Briefs Supporting Evolution Disclaimers

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I’ve gotten a hold of five amicus briefs recently filed in support of the disclaimers placed on Cobb Country, GA biology textbooks. These briefs have been filed with the 11th circuit court and can be found here along with other documents.

The lowlights:

  • The states of Alabama and Texas argue that separation of church and state does not exist, that biology books are innately hostile towards religion and thus may require a disclaimer to make them neutral towards religion, that the disclaimers accommodate religious students–Do these states accommodate blind students by requiring all textbooks be in Braille?–and that the disclaimers have no creationist language.
  • Chemists and other scientists, organized by the Discovery Institute, use the standard (and discredited) intelligent design talking points to argue that “neo-Darwinism” and the “chemical origin of life” are controversial, despite the fact that neither of these things are mentioned in the disclaimer. (This brief is a reworking of an amicus brief submitted to the trial court.)
  • Roy Moore and his Foundation for Moral Law argue that the Lemon test is unconstitutional and that First Amendment does not apply in this case because the disclaimers are not a law establishing a state church.
  • The Alliance Defense Fund argues that there was only one reason that the trial court found against the disclaimer–There were actually several reasons cited by the trial court.–and that the disclaimer should be upheld because it is similar to anti-liquor, anti-homosexual, and anti-choice laws.
  • Hare Krishnas argue that the disclaimer does not just support Christians, that ruling against it is being hostile towards religion, and that the disclaimer promotes tolerance towards religious people.

85 Comments

It would be almost impossible to parody.

Is there any possibility that the court will grant credence to those things? Is there a need to get real information to the court via an amicus?

It is interesting that extremist Christian groups seem to want to equate their religious beliefs with a handicap or a “special need.”

I still am waiting to here why it isn’t sufficient to allow the children of “offended” parents simply to leave the room while facts about evolutionary biology are presented – just as atheists’ children are entitled to leave the room when the Prayer of Allegiance is recited.

This seems like a much more narrowly tailored approach to the special needs of the children of religious parents, as compared to smearing the work of scientists wholesale.

The children whose parents believe that their religious indoctrination program is interfered with by certain biology classes can present the required (i.e., tested) information to their children at home, providing all the disclaimers deemed necessary.

This approach has the benefit of not smearing scientists and also allowing the children of parents who aren’t afraid of certain scientific facts to be educated without being interrupted by scripted queries from their special needs classmates regarding Noah’s Ark, “who designed the outboard motor?”, “Nazi theory,” etc.

well, the only problem i see with that is the “etc.” part.

exactly where would it stop? every time there is a controversial issue, half the class walks out?

that starts to sound more like support for private schools and vouchers.

GWW wrote

I still am waiting to here why it isn’t sufficient to allow the children of “offended” parents simply to leave the room while facts about evolutionary biology are presented — just as atheists’ children are entitled to leave the room when the Prayer of Allegiance is recited.

If biology is taught right, that means they’re out for the whole semester.

RBH

Sir TJ

exactly where would it stop? every time there is a controversial issue, half the class walks out

Well, where does this disclaimer garbage stop? There’s a slippery slope argument accompanying any solution to any problem.

My point is that the issue of how to deal with children of offended parents (or offended children, if it’s clear they understand the issues) in public school classrooms has been addressed by the Supremes already.

You can make distinctions based on the amount of time out of the classroom if you like.

But you can also make distinctions based on what is being taught. In one instance: that our nation is guarded or lorded over by the Christian God. In another instance: scientific facts.

Think about it.

I’m in no mood to coddle people rendered ignorant by their religion. I saw Nightline this week, with a story on “exorcism” and another on snake handlers. I saw a bunch of people who were clearly mentally ill, including a pregnant woman endangering her fetus by waving a venomous rattlesnake in front of her belly. And these people were merely extending to their “logical” limits beliefs that every orthodox Christian holds–that incorporeal spirits can interact with and even control bodies; and that a mental state, faith, can affect the physical world. I do not think we owe such viewpoints any respect, because they have repeatedly failed in the “laboratory” of human observation and experience.

ID creationism takes up precisely these two points: that an immaterial god can somehow interact with physical reality (my favorite phrase for this was that God “glued tails onto bacteria butts”); and that our mental states–faith and ignorance–somehow have an impact on empirical facts. I do not think we need to accord these opinions, which are if not insane, at least demonstrably erroneous, any respect whatever.

The difference between science and faith is, if something “works” one time out of a hundred in religion—prayer, say—it is considered a success. And if a scientific theory has one verified anomaly, it must be revamped or abandoned. That is not a standard that should be promoted to impressionable children.

That’s not very amicus, but it was brief.

What absolutely KILLS me is “the disclaimer should be upheld because it is similar to anti-liquor, anti-homosexual, and anti-choice laws.”

So not only are gays discriminated against legally, but now the fact that they are is an argument for other idiocy! It’s almost a picture-perfect diagram of a slippery slope! After this they can say “requiring kids to pray in school is similar to the biology textbook sticker”, then “having separate schools for the ‘faith-challenged’ is similar to requiring kids to pray in school”, and… well, you know where it goes from there, there are trains and showers involved.

Hare Krishnas argue that the disclaimer does not just support Christians, that ruling against it is being hostile towards religion, and that the disclaimer promotes tolerance towards religious people.

Wow. That’s such a poor argument. Evolution is not hostile towards religion. It is, however, in conflict with certain religious *interpretations*. If the Hare Krishnas’ logic was true, then it would also be “hostile to religion” to teach that germs cause disease if some religious people believe that demons are the only cause of disease – as some of the early Christian leaders (such as Augustine) and some of the more extreme fundamentalists do.

“all diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to demons, chiefly do they torment the fresh baptized, yes, even the guiltless new-born infant”. - Augustine

If we were to accept this logic, where would it lead us? Ultimately, it leads to the schools never teaching anything that conflicts with any religious belief, no matter how bizaare or backwards (which ends up working as a cover for religion to promote even the most medieval ideas). And if the schools “dare” to teach any of these things, they are accused of being “hostile towards religion”.

What absolutely KILLS me is “the disclaimer should be upheld because it is similar to anti-liquor, anti-homosexual, and anti-choice laws.”

A lot of people in the United States are remain shameless when it comes to bigotry.

Case in point just reported today

http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/0[…]p/index.html

White supremacist running for Montana school board

McGuire, who calls himself a “European American activist” and rejects the label of white supremacist, says he believes he has more support in the community than many think. And he says he is committed to reforming Bozeman schools.

He says the schools promote homosexuality, strip parents of control over their children, ignore white students and promote other cultures at the expense of figures like George Washington and other founding fathers.”

Other than McGuire’s special interests, that last paragraph sure sounds like a familiar lament! It’s Roy Moore and Focus on the Family redux.

Is McGuire a creationist? Not the usual sort we deal with here. Here’s a passage from a screed on the National Alliance website.

http://www.natvan.com/pub/2002/072702.txt

The entire evolution of life on earth from its beginning some three billion years ago, and in a more general sense, the evolution of the universe over a much longer period before the appearance of life, is an evolution not only in the sense of yielding more and more highly developed physical forms, but also an evolution in consciousness. It is an evolution in the self-consciousness of the whole.

From the beginning, the whole, the creator, the self-created, has followed, has in fact embodied, an upward urge – an urge toward higher and higher degrees of self-consciousness, toward ever more nearly perfect states of self-realization.

The irony is that this is the sort of hate-fueled nonsense that many ID peddlers and creationist apologists often try to argue flows from the teaching of evolutionary biology.

But scientists have not identified a “creator” who “embodies” an “upward urge”.

It’s not science education that promotes bigotry. It’s asinine ignorant human beings who promote bigotry and abuse science for their own selfish purposes.

That most of the loudest-mouthed self-proclaimed evangelicals share many of the same goals as these racist jerks should give them pause.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Schiavo debacle was a major foul-up for the religious extremists and their agenda. It showed the country how freakishly divorced from reality these charlatans are.

Blogger Andrew Sullivan, a gay conservative whose opinions on just about everything I disagree with, is waking up:

As Bill Donahue put it: “The people on the secularist left say we think you’re a threat. You know what? They are right.” Very senior Republicans echo the line that there is a filibuster against “people of faith.” This isn’t just about gays, although we’ve felt the sting of the movement more acutely than most. It’s about science, stem cell research, the teaching of evolution, free access to medical prescriptions, the legality of living wills, abortion rights, censorship of cable and network television, and so on. The Schiavo case woke a lot of people up. I was already an insomniac on these issues. Maybe I’d be more effective a blogger if I pretended that none of this was troubling, or avoided the gay issue and focused on others. But I’m genuinely troubled by all of it, and by what is happening to the conservative tradition.

http://www.andrewsullivan.com/

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A lot of people in the United States are remain shameless when it comes to bigotry.

That most of the loudest-mouthed self-proclaimed evangelicals share many of the same goals as these racist jerks should give them pause.

Fight Bigotry…Hate Evangelists! :-)

Great White Wonder wrote:

It is interesting that extremist Christian groups seem to want to equate their religious beliefs with a handicap or a “special need.”

Could you remind me what evidence your assertion is based on?

Nat

Could you remind me what evidence your assertion is based on?

Sure. It’s the use of the term “accomodation”, a term that is also used in the context of providing, e.g., ramps and elevators for people confined to wheelchairs.

The Krishnas argue that the decision striking the placement of the stickers is hostile towards religion, not evolution nor the teaching of evolution. They contend that accomodation, and not merely tolerance, of religion is required, and that this decision failed that requirement for various reasons.

To be a bit more nuanced, they weren’t saying that teaching evolution was hostile to religion, but rather, teaching evolution without providing a convenient escape clause for those who want to ignore it is hostile to religion. Is that correct?

Great White Wonder:

The term “accommodation” (applied to religion) has appeared in Federal law for over 30 years, long before the ADA, and the concept of religious accommodation in American jurisprudence is, of course, much older. The disabled and the religious are not the only ones that the government makes accommodation for, and among the religious, it is not only Christian extremists who are accommodated. (Jews in the military are permitted to wear yarmulkes, etc.)

The difference between accomodating religious dress in government jobs and encouraging ignorance seems obvious. Making kids hear about a theory isn’t making them learn it. Hell, if teaching automatically meant learning, our educational problems would be solved. And even if they learn it, they don’t have to believe it.

“Making kids hear about a theory isn’t making them learn it”

perhaps, but it IS encouraging confusion, both about what science is, and what our government is supposed to represent.

when a minority view is forced upon students in a public school, of what value is that?

perhaps only as a lesson in politics, nothing more.

Harq al-Ada wrote:

The difference between accomodating religious dress in government jobs and encouraging ignorance seems obvious.

Agreed. Now what does this have to do with whether the religious equate their belief with a disability?

Making kids hear about a theory isn’t making them learn it. Hell, if teaching automatically meant learning, our educational problems would be solved. And even if they learn it, they don’t have to believe it.

This reasoning works for some theories, but not others, right?

Grant Canyon Wrote:

In fact, I would recommend anyone interested in this issue to read the briefs themselves, as I don’t feel (based on the two that I’ve looked at) that Reed’s encapsulation accurately describes the entirely of the arguments. (No offense to Reed intended, at all.)

None taken. What is in my post are lowlights, not synoposes.

Nat

The term “accommodation” (applied to religion) has appeared in Federal law for over 30 years, long before the ADA, and the concept of religious accommodation in American jurisprudence is, of course, much older.

When did the concept of accomodation as applied to religion first appear in American jurisprudence?

For what it’s worth, I’d love to know where you’re headed with this commentary.

Stare decisis is nice but novel legal arguments that help to achieve the goal of keeping religious baloney out of public science classrooms are nicer. Got any of those?

The disabled and the religious are not the only ones that the government makes accommodation for, and among the religious, it is not only Christian extremists who are accommodated. (Jews in the military are permitted to wear yarmulkes, etc.)

Let’s focus. The issue is not whether government may permit someone to wear religious identifiers in public.

The issue is whether the First Amendment (at least) permits the government to affirmatively mislead public school children – all public school children – merely because religious parents allege that particular scientific facts contribute to the decay of civilization and interfere with the indoctrination of their children.

The gist of the religious parents’ argument is that their children require special attention and only with affirmative assistance from the government can their religious indoctrination proceed as the parents want it to proceed.

From my perspective, the First Amendment violation is plain as paint unless the parents can show that their children are inherently special and needy – exceptionally mentally fragile, as it were – and the teaching of scientific facts contrary to their religious tenets is demonstrably harmful to them (or to society as a whole), as a matter of fact.

The disclaimers and stickers and “alternate theories” nonsense allow children of religious parents to take a gentle toddler-friendly escalator ride through a shiny artificial world of biological science, rather than face the moss-covered wooden steps that remain rock solid after more than a century of research.

The absurdity of the “accomodation” arguments of these misguided religious extremists is echoed in their references to anti-gay bigotry. The Dobsonite Christians believe somehow that their “religious rights” are being trampled when they are asked to stop spewing garbage about “sick” gay children.

What an odd “religion”! Is that the history of religious accomodation in the Judiciary? Allowing people to harass others in Federal buildings simply because they claim that their “religion” requires them to do so? I don’t think so.

There are no principled reasons to accomodate these ignorant bigots. It simply is not the Federal government’s job to preserve their evidently weak faith or their increasingly inconsistent and unintelligible “values”.

All,

After skimming through the majority of the posted briefs, I think it’s appropriate to mention a very important rule of appellate law:

No fact, not introduced at trial, may be considered on appeal.

It occurs to me, that regardless of how well or poorly thought out most of the submitted appellate briefs are, they all suffer from the almost wholesale disregard for the above-stated rule. So, if the appellate judges are doing their respective jobs, then they must ignore every reference to any scientific text, document, journal, etc., that was not offered into evidence during the trial.

This would render most of the offered briefs completely meaningless.

As “position” papers, however, the briefs certainly give you an idea of where the different parties stand on the issues.

I can practically guarantee that the judges considering the merits of this case, will pretty much ignore all of the scientific debate, and concentrate solely on whether the text on the sticker creates an “unnecessary entanglement” between the State and religion. And, I don’t really think that the sticker does this – it’s pretty non-committal (and pretty lame).

So, although I find the entire notion of some deity stirring up a mixture of amino acids and dumping it into the atmosphere, absurd, I really think that the scientific community would be better off just letting the public schools teach whatever nonsense they wish to teach.

Because, by standing so solidly against teaching nonsense, you appear to be trying to hide something from the public, which gives your critics lots of useful ammunition – when in reality, you really have nothing to hide – and your critics are mostly shooting blanks.

“I really think that the scientific community would be better off just letting the public schools teach whatever nonsense they wish to teach.”

As a matter of self-interest, this would be self-defeating, you know.

“It simply is not the Federal government’s job to preserve their evidently weak faith or their increasingly inconsistent and unintelligible “values”.”

no, but it apparently is in their best self-interests to do so, in order to maintain (or not piss off) their political powerbase.

“by standing so solidly against teaching nonsense, you appear to be trying to hide something from the public”

that’s funny.

I thought the public relied on science to tell them “the facts” for most things, should science now abandon this mission in favor of random ideas?

If the public thinks scientists are hiding anything, they are certainly welcome to take a closer look. However, without proper grounding in science to begin with… if we allow “the teaching of nonsense” as acceptable, how on earth will they know what they are looking at?

socrateaser raises the infamous Heddle defense of the disclaimers

concentrate solely on whether the text on the sticker creates an “unnecessary entanglement” between the State and religion. And, I don’t really think that the sticker does this – it’s pretty non-committal (and pretty lame).

So what does the sticker do? i.e., why do religious parents want a “non-committal” and “pretty lame” sticker put in biology textbooks?

I really think that the scientific community would be better off just letting the public schools teach whatever nonsense they wish to teach.

Of course! Because we all know that what scientists really want is incredibly stupid and deluded high school graduates with all sorts of idiotic misconceptions about science. What we were thinking?

@socrateaser:

you might want to also check the thoughts shared in this thread:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]/000949.html

cheers

If ID is not religious than why is former judge Roy Moore arguing that there is no such thing as the separation of church and state in the U.S. constitution? Just wondering.…

I was talking about evolutionary theory, not ID.

JimboK Wrote:

If ID is not religious than why is former judge Roy Moore arguing that there is no such thing as the separation of church and state in the U.S. constitution? Just wondering . …

A fair question. The answer is that the Constitution merely states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The extremes of legal interpretation of this phrase run the gamut from (paraphrasing):

(1) any legislative act regarding religion is permissible, as long as the law does not actually establish a State religion,

to,

(2) any legislative act that endorses what would otherwise be a religious idea, is impermissible.

As you can see, there is wide room for judicial interpretation in all this.

Judge Moore certainly appears to be a rather fundamentalist type when it comes to his religious beliefs. And, his Amicus brief to the court pretty much supports interpretation #1, above. Conversely, the District Court Judge who tried the Cobb County case, appears to pretty much support interpretation #2.

My reading of Judge Moore’s brief tells me that the Judge is not attempting to establish a State Religion, although he “may” be suggesting that there is no actual “separation of church and state,” because, as he points out, that’s not what the Constitution says. Rather his honor merely wishes that the government accommodate his fundamentalist Christian ideas, rather than reject them in favor of, what he believes to be, an entirely hostile anti-Christian viewpoint.

This is not to say that I endorse the Judge’s interpretation – merely that I understand where he stands. Judge Moore takes great pains to point out all of the statements by the Framers of the Constitution concerning their deeply held religious convictions. He fails to point out, however, that many of those same Framers were “Deists,” and while they held religious convictions, they certainly were not of the same fundamentalist character that Judge Moore seems to want to ascribe. To wit:

“DEAR SIR, – In some of the delightful conversations with you, in the evenings of 1798-99, and which served as an anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then laboring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic; and I then promised you, that one day or other, would give you my views of it. They are the result of a life of inquiry & reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.”

– Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush (4/21/1803)

As you can read for yourself, Jefferson found Jesus to be an excellent “human,” but not necessarily the Son of God.

Anyway, the point is, that while evolution may be the scientifically correct theory of the development of life on Earth, the Constitution must provide for both those who wish to accept that theory as correct, as well as those who don’t.

Ces’t la vie.

socrateaser

you need to fight the argument … as if you are still the persecuted minority

Specifics, please.

Colin Wrote:

Socrateaser, your vote-counting seems accurate to me. I certainly agree that Cobb would be a much closer case than Aguillard, and I would not be surprised if the Court, having taken the case, allowed the stickers. I would be surprised, though, if the Court took the case in the first place.

Don’t you think that there would need to be either a circuit split or a notably objectionable appellate ruling before the case came up for review?

I think that something that has just happened today, may render Cobb County almost inconsequential, and that the U.S. Supreme Court may refuse to review Cobb regardless of the 11th Circuit opinion, at least until what is shaping up to be a real barn burner in Kansas, gets through the lower courts.

What I’m getting at is that one of the Kansas School Board members today, expressed her dismay over attorney Pedro Irigonegaray’s refusal to produce an advance list of pro-evolution witnesses for the coming evolution vs. creationism debate before the board, between Irigonegaray and John Calvert. The Board has expressed a desire to “pray” over the matter, and so they want to know the witnesses’ names. Apparently, they believe that they can get God to intercede and influence the outcome of the debate. Now that is REALLY some intelligent design at work!

I think perhaps the pro-evolution side should consider bringing in a voodoo priest and then ask the School Board members for some hair and nail clippings in return for the advance witness list!

Anyway, the Board’s prayer-related statement demonstrates substantial evidence of a religious agenda in the Board’s promotion of intelligent design as part of public school curriculum, and radically changes the legal character of the Kansas School Board hearings. In my opinion, this is a legal blunder by the Board of significant proportion (i.e., they’ve just blown their entire court case, based on existing precedent).

In the debate itself, I’m hoping that this Irigonegaray knows his facts, because Calvert is an extremely adept opponent of evolutionary theory. But, Irigonegaray immediately expressed his concern about the Board’s prayer rationale, and so, at least he is paying attention to the evidence that will be required for an appeal of the School Board’s final ruling – which will, no doubt, support the ID/creationist position.

Anyway, having said all this, I’m thinking, that depending upon timing, that Cobb may never get to the High Court, because this Kansas case will be used instead to resolve the various outstanding controversies.

Predicting the future outcomes of future court actions, like Cobb, is just too tough. I’ll stay well clear of speculation here beyond my initial vote count.

:)

Correction to post #27716: The Kansas School Board’s stated intent to “pray” over the pro-evolution witness list, apparently occured prior to an article appearing in the “Lawrence Journal-World” on 4/20/05. I didn’t notice this article until today, and I neglected to look at the date prior to posting my thoughts.

Regardless, my analysis remains the same.

socrateaser

Anyway, the Board’s prayer-related statement … radically changes the legal character of the Kansas School Board hearings.

No it doesn’t. Not at all.

Where have you been?

I may be behind the curve on the timeline of events, but when I say that the legal character is changed by such a statement made by the school board members, of their intent to pray over the witness list, I believe that is correct. The statement can be inferred as an a legal admission, i.e., a statement by a party against his/her interest, that will be presumed to be true at trial. And it is reasonable to infer that if two of the three board members are intent on praying over the witness list, that the school board is prejudiced in favor of a school curriculum favoring a religious view of creation in the science classroom.

This makes the outcome of a future Kansas case to strike down a decision by the Board to teach the creationist/ID viewpoint a practical certainty. The debate will not matter. Legal precedent will force a court to strike down the Board’s findings as predominated by a religious motivation, because the Board has inferred its religious motivation on the public record.

Anyway, I apologize if my comments are old news to you. Hopefully, someone will find them useful.

Anyway, the Board’s prayer-related statement demonstrates substantial evidence of a religious agenda in the Board’s promotion of intelligent design as part of public school curriculum, and radically changes the legal character of the Kansas School Board hearings. In my opinion, this is a legal blunder by the Board of significant proportion (i.e., they’ve just blown their entire court case, based on existing precedent).

No kidding.

As I’ve always said, if you jsut let the fundies talk long enough, they will metaphorically shoot themselves in the head. Every time.

THAT is the single biggest flaw in the entire Wedge strategy — it requires religious nuts to remain utterly silent, indefinitely, on the one topic that they care about more than any other, lest they give the whole game away.

It is an impossible task for them.

“I think perhaps the pro-evolution side should consider bringing in a voodoo priest and then ask the School Board members for some hair and nail clippings in return for the advance witness list! “

now THAT’s something i can get behind. the imagery alone would be worth it!

socrateaser

And it is reasonable to infer that if two of the three board members are intent on praying over the witness list, that the school board is prejudiced in favor of a school curriculum favoring a religious view of creation in the science classroom.

That’s quite an inference! Can your agile legal mind not imagine any other reasonable inference?

I would like to hear you articulate the argument, socrateaser.

Actually, there’s no need to do that. The prejudice of the school board was fairly obvious before this prayer “admission” which is why the “admission” does not “radically change” anything.

This makes the outcome of a future Kansas case to strike down a decision by the Board to teach the creationist/ID viewpoint a practical certainty.

Always was. The praying comment is neither here nor there. These folks pray constantly, or at least they want everyone to believe that they do. There’s nothing illegal about voluntary prayer, right?

The only real suspense is in seeing just how low the school board will go in its efforts to defile itself. Praying over witness lists is just the tip of the bizarre berg of black ice these folks are trying to break up into kid-sized bites.

THAT is the single biggest flaw in the entire Wedge strategy —- it requires religious nuts to remain utterly silent, indefinitely, on the one topic that they care about more than any other, lest they give the whole game away.

Absolutely. And you can see this. They occasionally make irritated comments about Dover, for instance. I think it’s hilarious. Millions of dollars, a dozen years, spent trying to create and promote a version of creationism which hides the christian god part, and their less sophisticated peers come along and give away the game a la Bill Buckingham1.


1buckingham’s the retard in Dover. If anyone doesn’t know who he is, here you go:

Buckingham said he and others on the board wanted a book that would provide balanced treatment between Darwin’s theory and the biblical view of creation.

Local newspapers reported that Buckingham made no bones about his desire to see Christianity taught in the district’s schools.

“This country,” he said, “wasn’t founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such.”

At a meeting the following week, Bucking­ham added, “Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for him?” He also attacked church-state separation, saying, “[N]owhere in the Constitution does it call for a separation of church and state.”

from http://www.au.org/site/News2?page=N[…]&abbr=cs_

Great White Wonder Wrote:

That’s quite an inference! Can your agile legal mind not imagine any other reasonable inference?

I would like to hear you articulate the argument, socrateaser.

Actually, there’s no need to do that. The prejudice of the school board was fairly obvious before this prayer “admission” which is why the “admission” does not “radically change” anything.

I know I sound like a simpleton sometimes, but most of my cases settle, because I try to make the outcomes so damn obvious for the judge that the result is unavoidable.

Frankly, I think most attorneys make too much of their cases and write unnecessarily long briefs and pleadings that bore the judges to tears.

Judges get paid the same money whether or not they hear a case or write any option, and most of them, especially at the trial court level, after they’ve heard the first 100 cases of their careers, really just want the parties to negotiate a settlement, so the court can move the case file from the inbox to the outbox.

So, when I read the line about two members of the Board expressing their desire to pray over the witness list, and that they needed the names of those witnesses, evidently to improve their prayers (although I’m not certain how this works), I said to myself, “Nothing else really matters. The case is over. I don’t need any other evidence to have whatever the Board advocates thrown out, because a majority has just admitted on the public record to being prejudiced in favor of a particular religious system.”

To be fair, the board didn’t say, “We want creationism taught under the guise of intelligent design.” But, the board did effectively say, “We want to pray to our Christian God in an effort to cause the evolutionary witnesses to come to their senses and tell the truth about the divine creation of mankind as a special creature in God’s world.”

It would be relatively trivial to put the board members on the witness stand and get them to admit this. And, as soon as I got that admission, I’d look at the judge and say, Move to declare the School Board’s curriculum an unconstitutional establishment of religion, on grounds that two of its members have admitted under oath that their Christian God directs them to advance in the public school classroom, a purely theological view of human creation.

And, then I’d collect my paycheck and go home.

:)

soc:

what do you think of lenny’s proposal to sue districts that don’t comply with state science standards:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…].html#c27810

Sir_toejam Wrote:

what do you think of lenny’s proposal to sue districts that don’t comply with state science standards…

I think Lenny’s idea has merit. Devil’s advocate thoughts:

1) it’s very expensive, unless you have pro bono attorneys for every jurisdiction in which you file suit. 2) it’s more difficult to arrive at a straightforward winning pleading when your opponent isn’t actively out in public slamming his/her respective foot in his/her mouth. 3) just on pure gaming theory alone, you may lose a few cases. 4) you may be portrayed in the media as a vexatious litigant – the public (dem ignerant masses) doesn’t like people who are always suing to stifle what many may view as the revealed and divine truth of God; 5) a concerted onslaught from a determined enemy may garner more financial support for your opponent, than might otherwise be available.

In general, I still believe that somehow the scientific community has managed to become viewed as the big bad wolf in all of this, rather than the persecuted minority fighting for truth, justice and the American way. I think your money is better spent on calmly explaining why the science is correct and why you are not a threat to the notion of a Christian God, i.e., “Science and theology are really mutually exclusive disciplines, and God does not reveal the precise workings of his plan for the world, so it is a false promise that ID brings, as the scriptures refuse the possibility that science can discover God in the gaps” (or some kind and gentle argument like that).

You need to take the edge off of the battleground, so that the scientific community can spend its resources on science rather than constantly patching the latest tire slashing by the Discovery Institute.

Anyway, off to work for me.

You need to take the edge off of the battleground, so that the scientific community can spend its resources on science rather than constantly patching the latest tire slashing by the Discovery Institute.

I couldn’t disagree more. This is NOT a fight between “the scientific community” and the IDers it is a fight between a tiny loudmouthed group of ayatollah-wanna-be’s and … well … everyone else.

And since it’s not a scientific fight, no amount of science will end it.

The only thing that WILL end it, is to destroy the IDers as an effective political movement.

1) it’s very expensive, unless you have pro bono attorneys for every jurisdiction in which you file suit.

Well, you only need one victory per state. Once you win in one district, ALL of the rest of the districts in that state must follow along. Whether they like it or not. And I’m pretty sure that once we win in one or two states, the rest will see the writing on the wall and give it up.

As for the expense, yes, it probably will cost money (though not any more than, say, the Epperson case or the Maclean case or the Aguillard case or the Dover case or whatever).

Talk is cheap. Action is not. But it’s the action that gets things done, not the talk.

In any case, I think there would be at least the possibility of having the state itself pick up the tab through the Attorney General’s Office, since the district in such a case would be, in effect, openly thumbing their nose at the state. It is, after all, the Attorney General’s job to protect the state’s legal interests – including insuring that its schools are following its state-mandated education standards.

And as a follow-on, I think we should start finding schools in states that have NO mandated standards about evolution and are not teaching it (either because of “the controversy” or “public pressure” or whatever), and bring suit. After all, the Supreme COurt has already ruled in the Epperson case (and reaffirmed in the Aguillard case) that it is unconstitutional to blot out the teaching of a particular area of science in deference to the religious view or wishes of any sect.

It seems another sure win for us and a sure loss for them. And it puts the bastards on the defensive for once.

The only thing that WILL end it, is to destroy the IDers as an effective political movement.

One simple way to accomplish that is to discredit their leadership and expose them as liars, hucksters, fakes, hypocrites and/or unreasonable extremists.

When’s the last time anyone paid attention to anything that Uri Geller said? Or Jimmy Swaggart?

Fyi, evidence that even the most gullible of suckers figure it out eventually (although they may not brag about it to the neighbors):

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/03/ir[…]l/index.html

A majority of Americans do not believe it was worth going to war in Iraq, a national poll reported Tuesday.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said they did not believe it was worth going to war, versus 41 percent who said it was, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,006 adults.

That was a drop in support from February, when 48 percent said it was worth going to war and half said it was not.

It’s also the highest percentage of respondents who have expressed those feelings and triple the percentage of Americans who said that it was not worth the cost shortly after the war began about two years ago.

Americans love success. And they really don’t enjoy being lied to. Unfortunately, a great deal of them are suckers for politicians, preachers and circus act promoters.

One simple way to accomplish that is to discredit their leadership and expose them as liars, hucksters, fakes, hypocrites and/or unreasonable extremists.

I quite agree. Another way is to tear down their Big Tent by exposing and exacerbating all the doctrinal differences that they try to paper over. How many of their supporters know that ID is funded by a single kooky billionnaire who has for decades has wanted to subvert the Constitution and turn the US into a theocracy? How many know that Wells is a Moonie who was paid by “Father Moon” to get his degree so he’d have some credibility? How many know that Johnson thinks AIDS is caused by sin – er, I mean “an unhealthy lifestyle” – instead of by HIV? How many know that Behe thinks humans are evolved from apelike primates?

I’m tired of making nice-nice with the kooks.

@GWW: “When’s the last time anyone paid attention to anything that Uri Geller said? Or Jimmy Swaggart?”

well, i’ll tell ya, if nobody shows up to the creation “megaconference” in July, I’ll feel safe that these idiots have been sufficiently marginalized.

when the leader of the house stops spouting: “the dems are anti-faith!”

I’ll feel safe that these idiots have been sufficiently marginalized.

when the president of the US stops mangling science in favor of his personal beliefs

I’ll feel safe that these idiots have been sufficiently marginalized.

until then… seems to me there are still WAY too many people listening to the likes of Fallwell (9/11 is god punishing us for our sins) or “swaggeringt” or any of these other idiots intent on fubaring science as we know it.

as to the legal strategy; Lenny, haven’t you noticed the deliberate attempts to weaken the judiciary by the right lately?

the more court cases you win, the more they will simply attempt to change the rules. first it will be the reinstallation of anti-abortion laws, then it will be forced creationism instruction in the schools.

How can we shore up the judiciary itself against such specious attacks? It’s like these folks have completely forgotten why we have a constitution.

OTOH, it still would feel good to kick some ass, and at least have something to show for it, at least until the judges are replaced with IDiots.

give me a bat, Lenny. Let’s crack some heads!

one more thing…

when i said:

“the more court cases you win, the more they will simply attempt to change the rules. first it will be the reinstallation of anti-abortion laws, then it will be forced creationism instruction in the schools.”

i meant to also add:

Not constutional you say? i guess that would depend on which judges you install to intrepret the rulebook.

why do you think there is an UNPRECEDENTED move by the right to abolish fillibusters in the Senate??

as to the legal strategy; Lenny, haven’t you noticed the deliberate attempts to weaken the judiciary by the right lately?

the more court cases you win, the more they will simply attempt to change the rules. first it will be the reinstallation of anti-abortion laws, then it will be forced creationism instruction in the schools.

How can we shore up the judiciary itself against such specious attacks? It’s like these folks have completely forgotten why we have a constitution.

IDers and creationists have lost every single Federal court case they have ever been involved with. In fact, IDers have not been able to pass a single law anywhere in the United States of America requiring their crap to be taught.

As for what happens when the judiciary itself decides there is no Constitution? At that point, we are no longer under the rule of law — we are under the rule of men. And we are then, in my view, justified in taking whatever steps become necessary to restore democracy and the rule of law.

Take that how you will.

Indeed. i am beginning to wonder if we aren’t very close to that.

you might think Kansas is important. However, much more important than that is what happens in the Senate. If the apparent showdown over judicial nominees ends up with the nuking of the filibuster after 200 years of acceptance, I think the end of the republic is most certainly near.

John Stuart Mill warned of the tryanny of the majority. if the filibuster is nuked, you will find out why he made the warning to begin with.

When’s the last time anyone paid attention to anything that Uri Geller said? Or Jimmy Swaggart?

One would hope that exposing liars and cheats and frauds for what they are would be enough; but the capacity of humans to delude themselves knows no bounds. This CRANK should be huddling in a cardboard box under a bridge overpass somewhere, but his loyal fans have done the jesus thing and FORGIVEN him. Flint made the analogy in another thread that Christianity(or probably any religion for that matter) is a parasite, and the first thing any good parasite does is disable the hosts defenses. That is such a wonderfully apt analogy.

…it is a fight between a tiny loudmouthed group of ayatollah-wanna-be’s and … well … everyone else…The only thing that WILL end it, is to destroy the IDers as an effective political movement.

Too many of America’s religious may lack the defenses needed to stand up against the ayatollah-wanna-be’s to stop the potential threat.

A toast: Here’s to hoping that America’s libertarian fear of a theocracy is stronger than its pathological need for a religious security blankie. Sincerely, Paul

er, substitute “we” for “you” in that last post.

my point is, it sure seems to me that the conservative right no longer believes in the rule of law, and they seem to be doing their damdest to get rid of whatever “inconvenience” it poses for them.

cheers

oh yeah, old Jimbo is back. yup, the parasite analogy is indeed a good one for this bottom-dewelling blood sucker. i remember making fun of Tammy-faye’s horrid makeup job when i was much younger. Now i wonder if it wasn’t some sort of camoflage paint to hide the parasite’s true nature.

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on April 28, 2005 9:24 PM.

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