Kansas Creationism Lawsuit Update: 19 Oct 2013

Everyone keeps asking us: Hey, Curmudgeon — what’s going on in Kansas? We understand your concern, so here’s your Kansas update.

Contrary to all expectations, Kansas recently adopted the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). But then, as in one of those old monster movies that frightened us when we were children, just as the hero and his lovely lady seem to be so happy, the Beast rushes out of the shadows and makes a grab for the girl. And so it is in the Flat Earth State — the Beast is making his move.

A month ago we wrote Kansas Creationism: It’s Back Again. A federal lawsuit was filed which seeks to block Kansas from implementing the science education standards on the grounds that … well, evolution is atheism, you know. Here’s a link to the plaintiffs’ complaint — it’s a 51-page pdf file: COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al. COPE, the lead plaintiff’s initials, stands for the grotesquely misnamed “Citizens for Objective Public Education.”

Among the lawyers for the creationist plaintiffs is John Calvert, who made a name for himself during the Kansas evolution hearings back in 2005. Wikipedia lists him among the participants and says that he: “has worked closely with the Discovery Institute in finding constitutionally allowable ways to bring intelligent design and failing there, Teach the Controversy, into public schools.”

We don’t want to sound like something scribbled on the bathroom wall of grungy, dockside saloon, but: If you’re looking for a good time, take a look at “Exhibit A,” starting on page 37 of the complaint filed by Calvert and his associates. It’s a letter that COPE (one of the plaintiffs) wrote back in June 2012, listing their objections to what were then the proposed science standards. It’s an amazing catalog of creationist arguments. Science is atheistic, materialism is atheistic, what they call “historical science” is based on faith, evolution is all speculation, etc.

But wait — there’s more! Starting on page 41, that same letter lists the evidence against evolution and historical science. You gotta read that stuff! It’s one of the best collections we’ve ever seen.

But that’s old news. Why are we posting about Kansas today? It’s because of what we just found in the Kansas City Star of Kansas City, Missouri. Their headline is State school board asks Kansas AG to defend anti-evolution lawsuit. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The State Board of Education is asking Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to defend it in a lawsuit over its decision to adopt new science standards.

Huh? They have to ask him? Isn’t it the job of a state’s Attorney General to defend the state and its agencies in litigation? Well, we don’t know how it works in Kansas. Maybe the Board has its own attorney, but they’d rather have the Attorney General. We visited the website of the State Board of Education, but we can’t figure out whether or not they have their own attorney, so that’s a mystery. On with the news story:

Board members met with their attorney in executive session this week about the federal lawsuit filed last month by an anti-evolution group called Citizens for Objective Public Education.

That certainly suggests that the Board already has its own attorney, but after meeting with him (yeah, or “her”) the Board members decided they would rather be represented by the state’s Attorney General. There’s a genuine story hidden in this, but the newspaper doesn’t reveal it. In fact, other than background, there’s really nothing else to the news story.

All we can do is speculate, and that’s a good way to get in trouble. Why is the Board’s current attorney (assuming they have one) being passed over in this case? It could be something as straightforward as their attorney’s recommending that course of action, perhaps because he has a conflict, due to a connection with one of the plaintiffs, or because he lacks experience as a Federal court litigator. Or it could be that the Board decided to dump him from the case because he’s too — shall we say — squishy on the need to defend the new science standards.

We may learn the truth behind this lawyer switching, or it may forever be a secret. Anyway, the case is pending, the game’s afoot, and your Curmudgeon is on the job.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Kansas Creationism Lawsuit Update: 19 Oct 2013

  1. Yeah, it always amazes me that the nutcases have such great-sounding organizations: Liberty University, The Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family, a dozen more.

    I’m surprised there isn’t a Center for Reasonable Education, Training and Information Nurturing.

  2. The Kansas school board’s decision to go with the state AG is most likely budgetary. You’re right though, SC — one would think that would automatically be in the AG’s job description.

  3. If you had to put money on it, with which party do you think the anti-evolutionists in Kansas identify, tea or dem?

  4. Ceteris Paribus

    The only Kansas attorney general news that I found locally is that yesterday the Kansas Supreme Court suspended the law license of our former AG, Phill Kline.

    “Citing ‘clear and convincing evidence’ of professional misconduct, the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday indefinitely suspended the law license of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline.”

    “The court found that Kline violated 11 rules governing the professional conduct of attorneys during his tenure as the state’s highest law enforcement officer and while he served as Johnson County district attorney.”

    But not to worry for him. His current employer, Liberty University, will apparently keep him on their payroll.

    “The dean at the Liberty University Law School has previously said he didn’t think the suspension of Kline’s law license would affect his ability to teach there.”

  5. Richard Olson

    Glad to see Kline finally gets what is coming to him. This is the first setback a Kansas Dominionist GOP leader has experienced since they took over the state a decade ago; this is an establishment group that not only inhabits the Governors seat and all senior elected officials (and appointed staff, of course), plus an enormous majority of seats in the state legislature and county/local government, but includes both US Congressmen. I am uncertain whether the US Senators are hard core TP or not, but if not they are as hostage to the group as the rest of federal GOP officeholders.

    I haven’t yet come across a good explanation for why the Board is going with the state AG, but I expect breaking news any minute. The AG is bound by law to behave within legal constraints, yes, but Schmidt is a Tea Party Dominionist of the first order. It may well be state statute requires AG representation of the State BoE. If so, one would think Kline’s censure should give Schmidt something to weigh heavily if he is tempted to pursue ideologically motivated shenanigan’s re secularism vs theocracy.

  6. Dorian Mattar

    Great work, please keep us posted.

  7. Checking PACER yesterday, I found that the defendants obtained an extension:

    Pursuant to Local Rule 77.2, all Defendants, should be and hereby are
    granted fourteen (14) additional days in which to answer or otherwise
    plead to the Petition filed herein. This is the first request for an
    extension. Defendant’s answer or other responsive pleading is
    originally due October 22, 2013; therefore, the request is timely.
    Defendants’ answer or other responsive pleadings is now due on or
    before November 5, 2013.

  8. Glenn Branch says: “Checking PACER yesterday, I found that the defendants obtained an extension”

    Thanks, Glenn. I was wondering why it’s taking them so long to respond to the complaint.

  9. @Cardinal Lurker111: I see what you did there. :-)