THIS is one we haven’t written about before. The San Jose Mercury News reports that: SoCal teacher violated First Amendment.
There’s a longer story on this in the Orange County Register, where we read High school teacher guilty of insulting Christians:
“Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense,’” U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said in a 37-page ruling released from his Santa Ana courtroom. “The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context.”
That 37-page ruling is a pdf file. We continue:
The establishment clause [of the First Amendment] prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion” and has been interpreted by U.S. courts to also prohibit government employees from displaying religious hostility.
That’s true. Here’s more:
“We are thrilled with the judge’s ruling and feel it sets great precedent,” said Farnan’s attorney, Jennifer Monk, who works for the Christian legal group Advocates for Faith & Freedom in Murrieta. “Hopefully, teachers in the future, including Dr. Corbett, will think about what they’re saying and attempt to ensure they’re not violating the establishment clause as Dr. Corbett has done.”
In an April 3 tentative ruling, however, Selna dismissed all but two of the statements as either not directly referring to religion or as being appropriate in the context of a class lecture, including the headline-grabbing “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”
That statement was one of many that got a pass from the judge. The judge’s opinion has a whole “Jesus Glasses” section, starting on page 16.
We blog about this stuff, and because we’re not the State there are no restraints on what we can say. Although some bloggers go way beyond what Corbett did, we see no need for it. Yet Corbett made his statements in class in a state-run school. We need to read the judge’s opinion in detail, but for the moment we find ourselves agreeing with this judge. Another excerpt:
Selna applied a three-pronged legal analysis known as the Lemon test to determine whether the establishment clause had been violated. The Lemon test, developed during a 1971 federal court case, asks whether a statement has a secular purpose, whether it advances or inhibits religion as its principal or primary effect, and whether it fosters an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.
Same precedent as was used in the Dover case.
We suspect we’ll be hearing more about Corbett’s trial. And we imagine that certain bloggers are going to take this one more personally than we do.
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