James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett (01 Sep ‘09)

YOU remember James Corbett, the California teacher whose classroom remarks that creationism is “superstitious nonsense” were ruled to have violated the Constitution’s establishment clause. Our last post on this topic was here: James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett (15 Jul ‘09).

At that time the court left unresolved the issue of whether Corbett would be granted “qualified immunity,” which would impact on the awarding of attorneys’ fees to Advocates for Faith & Freedom, the Murietta-based Christian legal group representing Chad Farnan, the creationist kid who originally complained about Corbett’s classroom remarks. Here’s a bit of information on qualified immunity.

As we said then, it’s important to know if law firms like that can make a lucrative career out of harassing teachers who disparage creationism. If the judge gives them a big fee, it’ll open the floodgates to such litigation. In effect, the result will be a new Inquisition, funded by the victims on the rack.

Today we have some more news. In the Orange County Register we read Judge delays decision on teacher who insulted Christians, subtitled: “It’s not clear yet whether James Corbett, 62, will be financially liable for violating a student’s First Amendment rights.” Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

A federal judge today postponed deciding whether to shield high school history teacher James Corbett from financial liability after he was found to have disparaged religion in class.

U.S. District Judge James Selna had issued a tentative ruling last week indicating he would effectively bar 17-year-old Chad Farnan of Mission Viejo from recovering any monetary damages or legal fees in the nearly 2-year-old case, but declined to make that ruling final today after a 45-minute hearing in his Santa Ana courtroom.

It’s rather ghastly the way they keep dragging this thing out. Let’s read on:

Corbett, 62, was found to have violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause in May when he referred to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a fall 2007 lecture at Mission Viejo’s Capistrano Valley High School.

This is one of those unfortunate instances in which the truth does not necessarily set you free. We continue:

Farnan’s attorneys have not said how much they might ask for in legal fees, but noted the tab is still running. They are working on the case on a pro-bono basis through the nonprofit Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a Murietta-based Christian legal group.

We found their website for you, in case you’re a creationist who wants to hire some lawyers to harass a teacher: Advocates For Faith & Freedom.

Here’s more from the Orange County Register:

It’s not about the money, but sometimes you have to hit the school district in the pocketbook to make them realize that teachers don’t have the right to do this,” said Farnan’s attorney, Robert Tyler.

Right. It’s never about the money.

There’s more to the article, but it discusses the technical arguments the lawyers were making this time around. Click over there and read it if that stuff interests you. Here’s our last excerpt:

While the judge said he would research [the creationist’s argument for fees] further, he indicated he was not entirely convinced.


[Judge] Selna did not set a new hearing date.

Wait! We have to add this, about the creationist kid’s family who were in the courtroom:

[Chad] Farnan’s mother, aunt, and older sister attended today’s hearing, but Farnan was sick and could not make it, his mother said.

“He told me, ‘I’m going to win in the long run,’ ” mother Teresa Farnan said. “It’s all in God’s hands and we’re not worried. Even if God wants to take it all the way to the Supreme Court, we’ll take it there.”

So there you are. This one has everything. Chad’s mom is even Mother Teresa. We can’t wait for the movie — “The Lord Is My Lawyer.”

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett (01 Sep ‘09)

  1. (more semi-sarcasm) Note that Corbett called creationism “superstitious nonsense.” So surely by now the DI has said “Of course creationism is superstitious nonsense, but ID is definitely not.”

  2. (demi-semi-sarcasm)
    Note that he called it “religious, superstitious nonsense”.
    Being an educated person, he would not engage in redundant pleonastic tautologies, so he was clearly distinguishing the religious from the superstitious and from nonsense. He recognized that there are several types of nonsense, and that creationism belongs to one sub-sub-category. It is as if one were to say “flat-earth-ism is geographical nonsense”: That surely does not say that geography is nonsense.

  3. Just a quibble, “pro-bono” is NOT hyphenated. One would think a newspaper should know that.

  4. OK, I understand why Corbett was wrong (even though what he said was correct). What I don’t understand is why this is a federal case. I see no evidence that anyone ever complained to the school or that anyone there ever talked to Corbett about toning down his rhetoric. I guess this is the “American” way, sue at the drop of a hat and hope to make money off of it. It is usually cheaper to “settle” a case than let it go to court whether you win or lose. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, only that the pro bono lawyers can make their money off it.