OUR last post on this litigation was James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett: Update 25 Jun ‘10. We also posted recently about something Casey Luskin had to say about it: Casey, Corbett, Creationism, & the Constitution. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:
This is about Dr. James Corbett, an Advanced Placement European history teacher at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, California, whose classroom remarks that creationism is “superstitious nonsense” were ruled to have violated the Constitution’s establishment clause. He was sued by Chad Farnan, one of his students — presumably a creationist.
Chad had also sued the school board — which was found not liable by the trial court. Both Corbett and Chad are appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Corbett wants to be found not liable, and Chad wants the court to impose even more liability. During the appeal, Chad dropped his claim against the school board in exchange for their agreement to drop their claim against him for legal fees. Only Chad’s claims against Corbett remain. Corbett’s attorney is Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine’s law school.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has many of the court pleadings available online. See: C. F. v. Capistrano USD.
In the Orange County Register, the source of most of our Corbett news, we read Intellectuals must ‘push back,’ urges teacher sued by student. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
Speaking at a convention in Irvine hosted by the Orange County chapter of the high IQ society Mensa, Corbett railed against what he described as anti-intellectual conservatives who rely on “submission” and “cherished cultural myths” to maintain power and influence.
“Intellectuals of all political persuasions have an obligation to push back,” Corbett told a roomful of 20 people at the Atrium Hotel in Irvine during a two-hour morning seminar. “RWAs (right-wing authoritarians) would drag the world into a world of war, fear and intolerance.”
Going on the offensive, isn’t he? We suspect a “roomful of 20” Mensa members may not be the most effective audience, but that’s okay. It’s good to speak out, and with press coverage his words will reach the wider world. Let’s read on:
Corbett said [Chad] Farnan’s attorneys – from the Murrietta-based Christian law firm Advocates for Faith & Freedom – seized on Corbett’s unconventional teaching style to build a case that religious students were under attack in public schools. The attorneys drummed up national publicity, then used that publicity to solicit donations, Corbett said.
As we’ve said before, the key to this case isn’t whether Chad can go through life with a silly smirk on his face; what matters here is whether there’s any money to be made in creationist litigation. If this case provides a good fee for Chad’s legal team, there will be an incentive for more of the same. Creationist lawyers will be openly behaving like their ambulance-chasing colleagues. We may soon be seeing television commercials like this:
Are your children being brainwashed by atheist teachers? Call the law firm of Rapture, Rupture, Scripture, and Vulture to learn about your rights. Dial 1-800-STUPID. Operators are standing by to take your call.
Children and their parents will be used as tools for rapacious “family values” lawyers. Creationist kids will be listening intently in class — not to learn any history or science, but to detect any “ungodly” expressions their teachers may make. Good teachers — who are already on the endangered species list — will become extinct. We continue:
Farnan, now a freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu, is appealing his case, seeking a broader ruling against Corbett. Corbett also is appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to be exonerated.
Chad’s at Pepperdine? That’s a church-affiliated school, so maybe he’s a campus hero. But it has an excellent academic reputation, so maybe it’s not quite the experience Chad had been anticipating. That doesn’t matter. As we said, the only issue here is legal fees. Here’s more:
Court briefs were filed by both sides this summer, and the appeals court decision might come as early as December – or perhaps never, Corbett said Saturday. Corbett explained that the 9th Circuit may decline to rule because he got to keep his teaching job and no attorney fees were awarded to either side. “The 9th Circuit may very well look at this and say, ‘It’s a moot case,'” Corbett said.
The appeal may just dribble away? That doesn’t sound right. We’re guessing here, but Corbett might have misunderstood something his lawyer told him. The lower court’s decision might simply be affirmed with a one-line order. That happens all the time, because lots of appeals are frivolous. In such cases, except for a single sentence affirming the trial court, there is no written opinion. Such a result in Corbett’s case would leave things as they are now, which is what he says is possible. It’s likely, however, that even if they do affirm the lower court’s opinion, at least some members of the 9th Circuit will want to write an opinion in this matter. We’ll just have to wait it out.
There’s much more in the article. If you’ve been following this potentially important case, click over there and read it all.
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