The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Creationist Lawsuit to Force Universities to Accept Their Curriculum Ends at the Supreme Court

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 19, 2010

Here is some excellent news, folks!  In a twist of reality that was almost weirder than fiction, back in 2005 a group called The Association of Christian Schools International filed a lawsuit against the university system of California because they claimed that the university system violated the constitutional rights of applicants from Christian schools whose high school coursework is deemed inadequate preparation for college.  In other words, the Christian school coursework was pushing creationism as science (and not teaching evolution), and the university system said that was inadequate preparation and refused to accept the “science” credits of those students.

Aside: one can easily see the slippery slope here.  If creationists were to get away with this kind of malarkey, then how long until New Age gurus demand that their quantum flapdoodle nonsense be accepted as “physics” credits for universities?

Well, it all came to the end of the line recently for the creationists in this case, because a few days ago the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the case, essentially locking in lower court decisions against the creationists :)

Read more about it from the National Center for Science Education…

The end of ACSI v. Stearns

On October 12, 2010, the Supreme Court declined (PDF, p. 12) to review Association of Christian Schools International et al. v. Roman Stearns et al., thus bringing the case to a definitive end. The case, originally filed in federal court in Los Angeles on August 25, 2005, centered on the University of California system’s policies and statements relevant to evaluating the qualifications of applicants for admission. The plaintiffs — the Association of Christian Schools International, the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, California, and a handful of students at the school — charged that the university system violated the constitutional rights of applicants from Christian schools whose high school coursework is deemed inadequate preparation for college.

Creationism was prominent in the case. The plaintiffs objected to the university system’s policy of rejecting high school biology courses that use creationist textbooks as “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.” Michael Behe, a proponent of “intelligent design” creationism, served as a scientific expert witness for the plaintiffs, although his defense of the creationist biology textbooks was unavailing. Wendell Bird, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, is a former employee of the Institute for Creation Research; he defended Louisiana’s 1981 “equal time” act all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled to violate the Establishment Clause in the decision in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987).

Relying in part on the view of defendants’ expert witnesses Donald Kennedy and Francisco J. Ayala (a Supporter of NCSE) that the creationist textbooks were not appropriate for use in a college preparatory biology course, the trial judge in ACSI v. Stearns granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on August 8, 2008. The plaintiffs appealed the decision, but in a January 12, 2010, ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision, which is now reaffirmed by the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case. Documents from the case are available on NCSE’s website, in a special section devoted to ACSI v. Stearns.

Expect to hear the creationists moan on and on about “activist judges” and “religious discrimination” and similar goofiness.  While I relish this admittedly important victory in the courts, I am not going to fool myself that these folks will simply go away quietly – they’ll be back, with another frivolous lawsuit or some other angle to attempt to tear down good science education.  So keep your eyes & ears open…

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One Response to “Creationist Lawsuit to Force Universities to Accept Their Curriculum Ends at the Supreme Court”

  1. D said

    Reading this has made me such an incredibly happy guy. It’s great to see that although the executive and legistlative branches are too often found paying lip service to the Christian right, the courts have not been perverted with the notion that creationism is a science. This was a good day for the world!!!

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