Kansas NGSS Case — Finally Dead


Two months ago we posted Kansas NGSS Case — Not Dead Yet. As you recall, a creationist organization with the Orwellian name Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) had sued Kansas 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.

Their case was tossed out at the trial court level when the state filed a motion to dismiss. The creationists appealed and lost. Then they tried to get the entire appellate court to review that, and they lost again. Their last move was to petition the US Supreme Court to review the case, and that’s where we left things — with a prediction about the fate of the creationists’ petition: “We’re betting it’ll be rejected.”

With our reputation as a seer at stake, we were delighted when our afternoon news sweep turned up this headline: Supreme Court won’t review lawsuit on Kan. school science standards in the Hays Post, a digital news site located in Hays, Kansas. Here’s one excerpt, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a nonprofit group’s lawsuit claiming that science standards for Kansas public schools promote atheism. The high court on Monday rejected a petition from a nonprofit Kansas group calling itself Citizens for Objective Public Education. The decision came without comment.

Looking for more, we visited the website of our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). They’ve been tracking the case and they have an archive of the pleadings here: COPE v. Kansas State BOE. Sure enough, they have this article about the latest news, The end of COPE v. Kansas, which says:

On November 14, 2016, the Supreme Court declined (PDF, p. 2) to review COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al., thus bringing the case to a decisive end. At issue was Kansas’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, which, according to the plaintiffs-appellants, “establish[ed] and endorse[d] a non-theistic religious worldview” in violation of the Constitution.

“This is a case that was frivolous from the get-go,” commented NCSE’s executive director Ann Reid, noting that the federal courts have consistently recognized (in the words of McLean v. Arkansas) “that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the Establishment Clause.” She added, “It’s a shame that Kansas was forced to devote resources to fighting this case instead of educating its schoolchildren.”

Frivolous indeed. NCSE provides a link to the order from the Supreme Court. It’s nothing more than a multi-page list of “ORDERS IN PENDING CASES.” Page one is a list of orders in active cases, and the second page is headed “CERTIORARI DENIED.” which means: “We’re not going to accept your case. Adios!” Midway down that second page, the Kansas case is the twelfth of 27 listed. It’s an ignominious end to an inherently silly case.

Just to make sure, we visited the website of the US Supreme Court. There we found the Court’s Docket for this case. It’s a short list of items. The last one says: “Nov 14 2016 — Petition DENIED.”

All we need now is the coroner of the Munchkins to certify that the case is truly dead. Hey — here it is on YouTube.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “Kansas NGSS Case — Finally Dead

  1. Well, isn’t there always the World Court or the U.N. that they could appeal to?
    Indeed, money wasted while Brownback and his lackies cut public school funds.

  2. michaelfugate

    I wonder how they will cope….

  3. Promoting atheism does violate the establishment clause. It’s just that no one has been able to make the connection in the minds of the judges.

    That said unless we can come up with a way to test our claims- ie Darwin’s claims- it will become very clear tat ours isn’t science. And that bothers me.

  4. Does anyone have a way to test whether the Earth makes an annual orbit of the Sun?
    A test which is any more definitive than the tests for whether evolution takes place in the world of life on Earth?

  5. Does anyone have a way to test whether the Earth makes an annual orbit of the Sun?


    A test which is any more definitive than the tests for whether evolution takes place in the world of life on Earth?

    Not even YECs deny that evolution takes place in the world of life on Earth.

    The questions are what type of evolution is it and what can it do?

  6. Permit me to doubt that you have a test for heliocentrism which meets your criteria for a test for evolution.
    Or should I compare Copernicus’s claims with Darwin’s claims?

  7. Okay. Our curmudgeon has reported faithfully on the discoveroids fantasy land post from Cambridge. Who else noticed?

  8. Frankie says…”not even YECs deny that evolution takes place in the world of life on earth.” Clearly, you’ve never spoken with Don McLeroy or his buds at the “Texas Board of Edumacation”. The misinformation quotient in your post is roughly equivalent to Behe’s improbability variable multiplied times the speed of light and divided by the number of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinners it makes to feed an intelligent dezine conference.
    Reality. Try it for a change.

  9. Hi Frankie (AKA Joe Gallien)
    Does frequency = Wavelength?
    Have you found the highest number yet?
    How is the caek recipe going?
    And how much FIASC/O is in ‘Aardvark’?

    I see you have a lack of places to troll now that you are banned at Uncommonly Dense.

    Stick to toaster repairs.

  10. I still gaze in wonder and somewhat disgusted awe at the notion that if you believe in evolution you MUST be atheist. Like, I can’t even make that trip in my head.

  11. I don’t believe In evolution.
    I don’t believe in the Pythagorean theorem, atoms or the Solar System, either.

  12. A red herring swims by: “Promoting atheism does violate the establishment clause.”

    I suppose that’s correct, but as @dweller42 points out, atheism and evolution are not the same thing.

    The infield fly rule is taught to high school baseball players across the nation. Nothing about “if there’s a force at third and less than two outs” has anything to do with God(s). You don’t hear people like “Frankie” complaining that it’s a violation of the Constitution.

  13. I still can’t believe Cleveland blew a 3-1 lead to the Cubs.

  14. There aren’t complaints that the infield fly rule is a religion, and that it is an arbitrary rule, and the kids should be given the choice.

  15. The graphic made my day. Thanks Curmudgeonly Curmudgeon. 🙂

  16. Good of you to notice, och will. I plan to re-use it whenever some creationist scheme fails.

  17. Frankie | 14-November-2016 at 5:49 pm |
    Promoting atheism does violate the establishment clause. It’s just that no one has been able to make the connection in the minds of the judges.
    That said unless we can come up with a way to test our claims- ie Darwin’s claims- it will become very clear tat ours isn’t science. And that bothers me.

    (1) The establishment clause is only violated if (a) atheism is a religion–if, that is, rejection of religion is a religion, and (b) it’s the government which is either doing the “promoting” or subsidizing it in some way (as Ken Ham wants Kentucky’s government to do for his Ark Park).

    (2) If “Darwin’s claims” hadn’t been tested countless times and found to hold up, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So don’t let yourself be bothered.

  18. TomS:
    “Does anyone have a way to test whether the Earth makes an annual orbit of the Sun?”

    Yes, Tom, there is a simple test that anyone can perform.

    If you look at the stars while facing south at midnight, you are looking into space directly opposite the Sun. Do this in July, and you are looking towards the center of our Milky Way galaxy beyond the constellation Sagittarius. If you go out on the same date in August and again look south at midnight, you’ll see that Sagittarius is now 30º further west, and Capricorn is now due south. And so it goes each month until January, six months after you started, and you’ll be looking into space in the opposite direction of July, toward Gemini. Since the midnight sky is opposite the Sun, the Earth must be on the other side of the Sun in January compared to July.

    So, either we are going around the Sun, or the entire universe is going around the Earth. We now have amassed a huge body of evidence that the latter is not the case, so it sure looks like we are revolving around the Sun.

    This is an easy demonstration to set up with any science class. On a playground, open field, or in a gym, twelve students form a large outer circle holding up posters of the Zodiac constellations, while another student stands at the center as the Sun. The rest of the students walk counterclockwise around the Earth’s orbit while facing away from the Sun.

  19. There are other explanations for the observations.
    First of all, though, you mention that there is a body of evidence for the behavior of the universe. That it critical for your argument, and it should be described in some detail.
    After all, the very careful observers of the motions of the heavens knew about the changes over the seasons for thousands of years without coming to the conclusion that the Earth was in motion.
    But as far as other explanations. What you are really observing is the relative position of the Sun to the positions of the other stars. You are seeing in the night sky the stars which are opposite the Sun. If the Sun is going around the Earth, then it can be in a different position at midnight in January than it is in July, not that the stars are in different positions. (I am granting that the Earth has a daily rotation – 360 degrees in one sidereal day, about 23 hours and 56 minutes.)

  20. These blogs emphasize just how much we need to distinguish between “believe” and “accept.” “Believe” means that one thinks something is absolutely correct as based on faith alone, no evidence is needed. “Accept” should mean that something is considered correct (for now) as based on observable and repeatable evidence (direct or indirect evidence).

  21. @TomS: Point taken. The evidence of the nature of the universe is not as easy to simply demonstrate, and part of the evidence relies on relativity — we know now that the stars, etc. are at vastly greater distances than the Ancients imagined them to be, as fixed points on a solid celestial sphere encircling the Earth. The stars, and especially the distant galaxies, would have to be traveling many times faster than the speed of light in order to complete their daily circling of the Earth. Therefore, the stars cannot be moving in unison around us, which would be necessary for us to see different constellations throughout the year if the Earth were not orbiting the Sun.

    A further point — calculations of spacecraft trajectories to the planets rely on the “Earth in Orbit” model. All of our planetary missions would have failed otherwise.

    Another bit of evidence available to all observers is the fact that we see a substantially higher rate of meteors between midnight and dawn than we do from dusk to midnight. Of course, the Ancients would not have known what this means because they didn’t know that a “shooting star” was actually a bit of rock burning up in our atmosphere. Between midnight and noon, the side of the Earth we are on is facing our direction of travel around the Sun. Just as you get more bugs splatting on your windshield than on your back window, we run into more space rocks after midnight.

    There’s more evidence, but I type slowly and this is primarily an evolution blog, after all, so I’ll just say there’s probably a website out there with much more.

  22. @TomS: How could I forget — another really good bit of evidence of the Earth’s orbit is the parallax shift of the apparent position of “nearby” stars compared to more distant stars. For any star close enough to exhibit parallax shift, the maximum shift occurs at six months — when Earth is on the opposite side of its orbit. The only other explanation would require a preposterous set of coincidences where thousands of stars were orbiting about unseen companions, all in the same 365.24 day period as the Earth.

    Of course, this evidence wasn’t available to the Ancients either, as it relies on the telescope to detect. IMO, it’s the most convincing evidence of all.

  23. retiredsciguy, there’s one more bit of observational evidence — the bizarre motion of the other planets as seen from Earth. If Earth were stationary, then the other planets exhibit a bewildering pattern of cycles and epicycles. If we all orbit the sun, their motions are much more comprehensible.

  24. michaelfugate

    The ideas of inertia, momentum and acceleration allowed one to stay put on a moving earth….

  25. SC, that’s true, but Ptolemy’s idea was an explanation — tortured though it was.