As avid followers of threats to evolution education will recall, several years Larry Caldwell, a lawyer and parent in the Sacramento, California suburb of Roseville, sought to have the local school board adopt what he described as a “Quality Science Education” policy. Caldwell’s policy, according to advocates for science-based science education, would have called for teaching, “the scientific strengths and weaknesses” of evolution.

Two years ago, after his proposal was rejected by the local school board, Caldwell filed a lawsuit in federal court asserting that the school district, a number of its employees, and two members of the board of education had violated his civil rights during the controversy.

According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), Judge Damrell emphasized in his decision that, “this case is not about how biology, including discussions of evolutionary theory can or should be taught in public schools. … Rather, this case is about whether Larry Caldwell was denied access to speak in various fora or participate in certain processes because of his actual or perceived religious beliefs.” Although Caldwell alleged that he was denied such access, in violation of his rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, Judge Damrell found otherwise: “the court has found that plaintiff has failed to proffer evidence sufficient to demonstrate a triable issue of fact as to any of his constitutional claims based upon this alleged discrimination.”

As reported by the NCSE, “the legal defeat in Caldwell v. Roseville Joint Union High School District is not Caldwell’s first; in 2005 and 2006, he represented his wife Jeanne Caldwell in Caldwell v. Caldwell et alia, in which she alleged that the Understanding Evolution website endorsed a number of religious doctrines, thereby violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by favoring certain religious groups over others. In that case, the presiding judge ruled that the plaintiff failed to allege that she had federal taxpayer standing, failed to sufficiently allege state taxpayer standing, and failed to establish that she suffered a concrete “injury in fact,” which sufficed to justify the defendants’ motion for dismissal.”

For other reports about threats to evolution instruction, visit NCSE online at http://www.ncseweb.org/pressroom.asp?state=CA

AIBS news and resources for evolution educators is available at http://www.aibs.org/evolution-initiatives/.

 


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