Christina Comer Appeal: Oral Argument Today

SOME of you may not be aware of the Christina Comer case. Our last report on it was seven months ago, here: Texas Creationism: Christina Comer Is Back! We’ll give you a bit of background:

Comer had sued the Texas Education Agency (the “TEA”) and Education Commissioner Robert Scott, alleging that she was fired merely because she forwarded an email from the National Center for Science Education’s Glenn Branch announcing a talk by NCSE board member Dr. Barbara Forrest, who was to give a lecture that was critical of teaching of intelligent design in science classes. One might say that Comer was “Expelled.”

Comer lost her case at the trial level. This is the judgment against her. She appealed. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has an archive of all the relevant court documents.

The Houston Chronicle carries this brief article: Appeals court hears Texas creationism case . The bold added was by us:

The former director of the science program for Texas public schools asks a federal appeals court to revive a lawsuit claiming she was fired after a dispute over creationism.

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments Monday in Christina Castillo Comer’s lawsuit against the head of the Texas Education Agency. A lower court dismissed her claims last year.

Comer says she was disciplined in 2007 after forwarding an e-mail about a presentation by a philosophy professor regarded as an opponent of teaching creationism in schools.

The agency says Comer violated her employer’s “neutrality” policy by airing her personal opposition to creationism. Comer claims the agency has an unwritten, unconstitutional policy of treating creationism as science.

That’s the whole story in the Chronicle. In other words, seven months after the appeal was filed, the court heard oral argument from the lawyers today. Their final decision could take some additional time. We’ll let you know.

You might contrast this with the case of David Coppedge, who actively promoted creationism at JPL, and was only demoted. Comer was fired. And unlike JPL, Comer’s employer was unquestionably an agency of the state. Her case is coming back into the news at an interesting time.

Addendum: For more a more detailed story, see this in the Washington Post: Firing over creationism e-mail leads to appeal.]

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7 responses to “Christina Comer Appeal: Oral Argument Today

  1. You can hear the oral arguments for yourself.

  2. Thanks for the link, rubble.

  3. The Curmudgeon notes

    Her [Comer’s] case is coming back into the news at an interesting time.

    But appears to be “blacked-out” by the scribbling shills of the Discovery Institute…

  4. Great Claw says:

    But [the Comer case] appears to be “blacked-out” by the scribbling shills of the Discovery Institute…

    That’s nothing personal. It’s an expected part of their boycott of reality. They won’t report about it until it matches their fantasies.

  5. Curmudgeon: “You might contrast this with the case of David Coppedge, who actively promoted creationism at JPL, and was only demoted.”

    If anything Comer was only encouraging the “listen to both sides” that the anti-evolution activists demand. Though the latter make sure to demand it only for captive audiences of impressionable children, and where the science side can be thoroughly misrepresented. In contrast, the seminar that Comer was “advertising” would be the real “level playing field,” with adult evolution-deniers welcome to attend and heckle – I mean politely challenge – the speaker.

    That more than anything shows that the anti-evolution activists do not want a level playing field. Not the one in the science and education arena where “level” means developing their theory before teaching it. And not even in an open forum where their pseudoscience is already granted “equal time”. No, they want only advantages that are unfair by any measure.

  6. Curmudgeon: “That’s nothing personal. It’s an expected part of their boycott of reality. They won’t report about it until it matches their fantasies.”

    BTW, is the DI still “blacking out” the Freshwater case? That’s the most interesting one in terms of DI antics. They’d love to defend Freshwater’s “freedom of speech” but they don’t want to be associated with that “kind” of creationist. They know that his strategy to mislead students undermines theirs.

  7. Frank J says:

    If anything Comer was only encouraging the “listen to both sides” that the anti-evolution activists demand.

    I wouldn’t fall into that “both sides” trap — it’s a silly argument when one side has no scientific standing at all.

    There’s yet another contrast between the Comer case and the claims being made by Coppedge. Science education was Comer’s job. Casey tries to make the point that “origins” research was JPL’s job. Maybe so, but it wasn’t part of Coppedge’s work in the computer maintenance department.