WHILE everyone else is whooping it up to celebrate the news we wrote about yesterday, that a Federal court in Texas Slams the Institute of Creation Research, your Curmudgeon will attempt to examine the deeper meaning of this event. This latest creationist defeat has, we believe, more importance than the laughable failure of a young-earth creationist outfit that wanted to issue state-sanctioned graduate degrees in science education.
Although they conspicuously stayed away from the ICR litigation, this case has great importance for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). Why do we say this? Because the Discoveroids are the creationists with a long-term litigation strategy.
Almost six months ago we wrote about a still-pending case: The Goal of the “Darwin’s Dilemma” Lawsuit, where we said:
Here’s how we see it. First, the Discoveroids know that they have no science. Second, since the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, they realize they can no longer maintain the pretense that Intelligent Design is anything other then raw creationism. Yet they persevere. Why?
Recall that the Discoveroids’ founding mastermind is Philip E. Johnson: Godfather of Intelligent Design. Recall further that their goal, as revealed in Johnson’s Wedge Document, is social revolution. See: Intelligent Design: It’s Not About Science.
So what’s going on here? We suspect that the Discoveroids’ game has morphed again. Now the plan is to use the Bill of Rights — as leftists have done for the last couple of generations with spectacular success — to wedge their way into the media, academia, and ultimately into the law of the land. To do that they need court precedents establishing the “right” to promote their nonsense in all public facilities.
That was months before they started the David Coppedge case, which is their latest effort in the same grand plan. Okay, but what does the ICR debacle mean for the Discoveroids and their dream of restoring the Dark Ages? The Discoveroids weren’t involved in ICR’s litigation. They wisely kept their distance, in accordance with their pretense that there’s some difference between them and traditional creationists (aside from doctrinal trivia like recent six-day creation). So why does the ICR decision have any effect on the Discoveroids? Here’s why:
In the ICR case, the creationists used all the magic phrases, like “discrimination, free speech, free exercise, equal protection, and due process,” and the judge gave fair consideration to what they were trying to say. Unfortunately, they didn’t use those phrases properly because they aren’t magic — like abracadabra. Those phrases have actual legal meaning, and they don’t have any effect unless they’re applicable to the facts. The creationists don’t understand this.
The judge in the ICR case tore into the creationists’ claims that the state unfairly discriminated against their creation “science.” He reviewed the nature of science, and the woeful curriculum of ICR, and then — like other judges before him — he correctly concluded that because creationism isn’t science, ICR wasn’t entitled to grant degrees in science education. They were, of course, free to maintain their beliefs, and also to teach them and grant degrees in creationism, but not under the state sanction of a degree in science education.
Although the decision of a trial court judge isn’t legally binding on anyone but the parties, the facts developed in the case are there for all the world to see, and the reasoning of the court is available to judges facing similar issues.
There have been earlier creationist cases involving largely the same arguments. In our post ACSI v. Stearns: Creationists Lose Again, we wrote about a case in which the Association of Christian Schools International and a few other plaintiffs sued the University of California system over UC’s refusal to recognize various high school level creationist courses when UC is evaluating the qualifications of applicants for admission. The creationists argued that the University of California’s policy on creationist biology courses “constitutes viewpoint discrimination, content discrimination, and content-based regulation, which conflict with the First Amendment.” Does that sound familiar? It should, because because ICR raised many of the same constitutional buzz-words in an academic context, to no avail.
Then there’s the Discoveroids’ much touted case, the “Darwin’s Dilemma” Lawsuit, involving some of the same constitutional issues. It’s being alleged that a science museum’s cancellation of a contract to display a creationist film amounts to discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment. Again, they’re using the familiar litany of magic phrases.
None of these cases are identical, of course, and the constitutional issues are complicated; but each new decision should be instructive for the next one. That’s because, when you get right down to it, every one of these cases involves the same thing — creationists claiming a constitutional right to force their way into places where, by definition, they don’t belong.
The pattern is becoming obvious. Judges can pay attention to well-reasoned trial court decisions from other jurisdictions, even if they aren’t technically binding the way appellate decisions would be. Therefore, the more First Amendment “viewpoint discrimination” cases that get decided against creationists, the better, because things get easier as the cases pile up.
Which brings us to the David Coppedge case, with its allegations that a creationist computer technician who was promoting creationism on the job was demoted by his employer due to unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. The Discoveroids have been vigorously touting the alleged merits of this case.
We’re not saying that the Discoveroids are going to lose their latest cases because of the ICR defeat. It’s not that easy. But as we’ve said, with each creationist defeat, things look better for the rational side.
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