A LAWSUIT we didn’t think had much merit is finally over. We devoted three earlier posts to this case, so it pleases us to post once more about its final disposition.
The suit had been filed against the University of California at Berkeley, which has an educational website called Understanding Evolution. Larry Caldwell, representing his wife, Jeanne Caldwell, claimed that UC’s website breaches the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state because it links to an article about religious organizations which believe faith can be reconciled with Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The link at the UC website that allegedly violated the First Amendment was apparently this: Statements from Religious Organizations. That link is to an article at the National Center for Science Education.
The trial court had dismissed Caldwell’s suit back in March of 2006, and it was being appealed when we first wrote about it. The trial court’s dismissal order is here.
A few months later we posted: Caldwell Litigation Against UC: Dismissal Affirmed on Appeal. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion (a PDF file) is here: CALDWELL v. CALDWELL. The final paragraph of the majority opinion says:
We conclude that Caldwell’s asserted interest — informed participation as a citizen in school board meetings, debates, and elections, especially with respect to selection of instructional materials and how teachers teach the theory of evolution in biology classes in the public schools — is not sufficiently differentiated and direct to confer standing on her to challenge the University of California’s treatment of religious and anti-religious views on evolution. An interest in informed participation in public discourse is one we hold in common as citizens in a democracy. While people inside and outside the academy may (and do) take different views in the ongoing debate over whether science and religion may coexist, Caldwell’s offense is no more than an “abstract objection” to how the University’s website presents the subject. … Accordingly, we believe there is too slight a connection between Caldwell’s generalized grievance, and the government conduct about which she complains, to sustain her standing to proceed.
At that time we wrote:
Presumably, except for possible post-appeal motions and maybe a petition to the US Supreme Court, the Caldwell litigation has now come to an end.
But that wasn’t the end. A month later, Caldwell petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear the case, and we posted: The Caldwell Case — It’s Back! Among other things, we said:
[T]he Caldwell cause is also favored by that arch-creationist organ, WorldNetDaily: Like it or not, you pay for faith in evolution, which describes the plaintiff, Larry Caldwell’s wife, as:
… a mother whose children could be subjected to website indoctrination …
So there you are. The Caldwell case is alive again, at least for a while. It’s discretionary with the US Supreme Court whether they’ll accept this case. If they don’t, the earlier dismissal will stand.
Now, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, we read High court rejects evolution suit against Cal. One excerpt should be sufficient:
A long-standing lawsuit against a UC Berkeley evolution web site by a Roseville woman [Jeanne Caldwell] who takes the Bible literally has been rejected without comment by the U.S. Supreme Court, the court announced today.
One page on Cal’s 840-page “Understanding Evolution” web site says Darwinism can be compatible with religion. The four-year-old suit by Jeanne Caldwell said the government-funded web site contradicts her religious belief about the incompatibility of religion and Darwinism and amounts to a state position on religious doctrine that violates the Constitutional separation of church and state.
Understandably, because it was their article to which the University of California website linked, the National Center for Science Education also has also written about the news: Understanding Evolution lawsuit over.
The neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) don’t yet have anything about this at their blog, but it wouldn’t surprise us if they’re working on something.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.