There has been more activity in what we’ve been calling the Darwin’s Dilemma Exhibition Case. The actual case name is American Freedom Alliance v. California Science Center, California Science Center Foundation, Jeffrey Rudolph, et al. It’s sometimes abbreviated AFA v. CSC. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:
A lawsuit filed by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) charges that the California Science Center (CSC or “Science Center”) violated both the First Amendment and a contract to rent its theater when it canceled a screening of Darwin’s Dilemma. The AFA is an outfit promoting “the controversy” about evolution — in the interest of what they call “academic freedom.” The film they wanted to show includes appearances by Richard von Sternberg, Jonathan Wells, and Stephen Meyer, all “senior fellows” with the Discovery Institute (the “Discoveroids”), claiming that the Cambrian “explosion” is evidence of intelligent design.
The theater owner getting sued is the California Science Center, along with the two other defendants: the Science Center Foundation (the actual party to the contract for showing the film), and Jeffrey Rudolph, who is president of both the Science Center and the Foundation. The Foundation canceled its contract with the AFA, alleging that a Discoveroid press release (which the Science Center hadn’t approved) violated a contract clause requiring their prior approval of all promotional materials. Technically, although two Discoveroid “senior fellows” were scheduled to conduct a discussion session after the showing of the film, the Discovery Institute wasn’t a party to the exhibition agreement.
Thus there’s an issue as to whether the unauthorized publicity sent out by the Discovery Institute gave the Science Center (and the Foundation) grounds to cancel the contract. It’s also an issue whether the Discovery Institute was working so closely with the AFA (the plaintiff) that their unauthorized publicity notices were issued with the AFA’s knowledge and tacit consent, thus breaching the contract.
The AFA alleges that the contract violation was a “false pretext” for cancellation of the exhibition contract. It’s really discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment, thus a violation of the AFA’s constitutional rights. In other words, the Science Center thinks this is a contract case; the AFA is treating it as a civil rights case.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has many of the court pleadings available online. See: American Freedom Alliance v. California Science Center et al.
Our last update was on 05 Feb ’11, plus some information we added in a comment to that post a month later. That was the post’s only comment, so we assume that no one but your Curmudgeon thinks this case is very interesting. Anyway, at that point the latest information was that the Science Center Foundation had filed a cross-complaint, AFA (the creationist plaintiff), had responded by trying to get it dismissed, and the court let the cross-complaint stand. Now each party has a claim against the other. The trial date was reset for for 25 July 2011.
Okay, let’s look at the NCSE archive to see what new pleadings have been filed. With the trial date only two months away, we see that the parties are starting to stir things up. The Science Center is moving for summary judgment, and the NCSE archive is loaded with their statements and memoranda in support thereof. They’re all pdf files, as you’ve come to expect.
If you care to read the pleadings, this is the motion filed by the Science Center Foundation and Jeffrey Rudolph, it’s president: CSC Motion for Summary Adjudication (on their cross-complaint, presumably), and this is CSC’s and Rudolph’s Memo in support of the motion. That’s a discussion of the legal issues, citing loads of cases; it’s 25 pages long. If you’re really hooked on this case, you’ll enjoy their Statement Supporting the motion. It’s a columnar summary of the evidence, pro and con, regarding each issue. Very neatly done. It’s 26 pages long.
We’re not linking to them, but NCSE’s archive has several other statements and memos that were filed in support of the same thing, some of them quite long. Also, the Science Center (not the Foundation) has filed a for motion for summary judgment on AFA’s 3d amended complaint, plus a memo and a statement in support of that. In layman’s terms, they’re throwing a lot of paper at the creationists, which makes it expensive for the creationists to pursue their goal.
We don’t see any indication that the creationist plaintiff is also moving for summary judgment, which is a bit surprising. When one side moves for summary judgment, the other often does too. For some reason that hasn’t happened here — at least not yet. Nor do we see anything filed by the creationist plaintiff to oppose the Science Center’s motions. That may be coming soon.
There’s nothing yet to indicate that the court has made any ruling on the summary judgment motions. If the motions are denied, the case will to go to trial — which starts in two months. We won’t have to wait much longer to see how this thing works out. Stay tuned.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.