You remember the lawsuit we first wrote about in Kansas Creationism: It’s Back Again. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:
Contrary to all expectations, Kansas recently adopted the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). Then a lawsuit was filed in the US District Court’s Topeka office, attempting to block Kansas from implementing the science education standards on the grounds that … well, evolution is atheism, you know. Here’s a link to the plaintiffs’ complaint — it’s a 51-page pdf file: COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al. The lead plaintiff’s initials stand for their Orwellian name, “Citizens for Objective Public Education.”
If you’re looking for a good time, take a look at “Exhibit A,” starting on page 37 of the complaint. It’s a letter that COPE (one of the plaintiffs) wrote back in June 2012, listing their objections to what were then the proposed science standards. It’s an amazing catalog of creationist arguments — one of the best collections we’ve ever seen.
Among the lawyers for the creationist plaintiffs is John Calvert, who made a name for himself during the Kansas evolution hearings back in 2005. Wikipedia lists him among the participants and says that he “has worked closely with the Discovery Institute in finding constitutionally allowable ways to bring intelligent design and failing there, Teach the Controversy, into public schools.”
Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) are tracking the case and have an archive of the pleadings here: COPE v. Kansas State BOE. You can find links to a lot of information at the Justia website: COPE et al v. Kansas State Board of Education et al, but you can’t access the court’s docket, which lists what’s been filed, and you can’t read the pleadings without a PACER subscription.
The state filed a motion to dismiss based on, among other things, sovereign immunity, the plaintiffs have no standing, the science standards (the NGSS) are secular, not religious, the NGSS standards don’t violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause, and they don’t restrict the plaintiffs’ right of free speech. Then — wonder of wonders! — that motion was granted and the case was dismissed. NCSE has archived a copy of the judge’s order, which you can read here: Order on Motion to Dismiss. It’s a 37-page pdf file.
Our last post about the case was back in December when the creationists filed an appeal: Kansas NGSS Case — It’s Back!. Things have been quiet since then, but we just found a bit of news in the Topeka Capital-Journal of Topeka, Kansas, the state capital. Their headline is Parents’ group Citizens for Objective Public Education files appeal in fight against Kansas public schools curriculum. The newspaper has a comments feature.
That’s a misleading headline, because the notice of appeal was filed months ago. What just happened is that the creationist plaintiffs have filed their brief. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us:
Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) is asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the organization’s lawsuit that seeks to stop the 2013 plan. The group contends the plan violates the religious rights of students, parents and taxpayers and is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree dismissed the lawsuit on grounds that the plaintiffs didn’t have “standing.” Standing is a legally protectible stake or interest in a dispute that entitles a plaintiff to bring the dispute to court.
We already know that. What’s the news? Let’s read on:
A new 64-page COPE filing at the Denver-based court contends that a judge in Kansas City, Kan., erred in December by throwing out the organization’s lawsuit.
That’s the news — all of it. NCSE has a copy of the brief in their archive — Brief of Appellants. It’s a 119-page pdf file. If you like reading that stuff, go right ahead. We don’t plan to spend any time on it, and we sympathize with the lawyers who will have to reply to the thing. This is what the newspaper says about it:
The standards [the NGSS] endorse and seek to establish “a non-theistic religious Worldview in the guise of science education,” COPE claims in arguments filed at the appeals court. The organization argues that in dismissing the lawsuit Crabtree “incorrectly characterized” parents and children who are plaintiffs as “bystanders” whose injuries from the standards are abstract, rather than concrete and particular.
So there you are. Thus ends today’s episode of the creationist soap opera in Kansas. [*Emotional violin music swells in the background*] Will the good, god-fearing folks of Kansas triumph against the satanic evolutionists? Will the atheist state force its godless theory of evolution on the innocent children? Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode of Kansas, the Flat Earth State — Rapture or Retribution?
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