Back in April we posted Kansas NGSS Case — Creationists Lose! A creationist organization with the Orwellian name Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) had sued to invalidate the state’s adoption in 2013 of the evolution-friendly Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). The correct name of the case is in this link to the plaintiffs’ original complaint — it’s a 51-page pdf file: COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al.
At the trial court level, 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, and therefore they don’t violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause or restrict the plaintiffs’ right of free speech. Then — wonder of wonders! — that motion was granted and the case was dismissed. That was in 2014. The creationists then appealed.
As we reported five months ago, the creationists lost their appeal. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have been tracking the case and they have an archive of the pleadings here: COPE v. Kansas State BOE. You can read the opinion here.
We thought the case was over. Imagine our surprise when we saw this at the NCSE website: COPE appeals to the Supreme Court. What? Filing a petition to ask the US Supreme Court to review an appellate decision must be done within 90 days of the decision to be reviewed. This is way too late. What’s going on here? It seems that there was some activity after the appeal was lost which kept the case alive. NCSE says:
In May 2016, the plaintiffs unsuccessfully asked the appeals court to review the case en banc.
Aha — that’s a request that all judges of the appellate court review the decision of the three-judge panel that rejected the appeal. We didn’t know about that. Apparently, COPE wasn’t successful in that either. Then NCSE tells us:
Subsequently, in August 2016, COPE asked the Supreme Court to review the appeals court’s decision and to address the question “Do theistic parents and children have standing to complain if the goal of the state is to cause their children to embrace a ‘nontheistic religious worldview that is materialistic/atheistic’?”
Now we understand. COPE’s petition to the US Supreme Court was filed in August, and NCSE is only now telling us about it. They provide a helpful link to COPE’s petition. It’s a 208-page pdf file, and we have no plans to read it. NCSE doesn’t say much else.
Looking for more information, we visited the website of the US Supreme Court. There we found the Court’s Docket for this case. They mention COPE’s petition of 16 August 2016. On 24 August, the Kansas State Board of Education waived their right to respond. Apparently, because granting COPE’s petition is within the Court’s discretion, the state didn’t think it was worth their time to bother responding. That seems a bit risky. Then, on 12 September there’s a cryptic entry: “Response Requested.” We’re not told who requested it. It’s unlikely to have been COPE, so it’s probably the Court. A response is due on 12 October. That’s all there is.
That’s the story — so far. What we’ve been calling the Kansas NGSS Case isn’t quite dead yet. We expect that the US Supreme Court will reject COPE’s request that they consider the case. If that happens, then it’ll be dead for sure. But if they accept the case — no, we won’t even speculate about that. Let’s just wait for the US Supreme Court to make a decision on COPE’s petition. We’re betting it’ll be rejected.
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