Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Gutter Design

The Discovery Institute is touting an article in The American Enterprise Institute Online by Joe Manzari and Seth Cooper that claims, as the Discovery Institute’s own law student, Michael Francisco, puts it:

[T]he newly elected Dover Area School Board, which campaigned on removing the ID policy actually chose to keep the policy during their first meeting . . . [b]ecause the Board members understood that removing the policy could have ended the legal controversy.

In essence, they are alleging that the new Board members colluded with the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State to increase the legal fees. I have no doubt that the attitude of the Board towards the ACLU and AUSCS changed after the new members were seated on December 5th. But without more, this attack on the character of the Board members is just another example of the recklessness about the truth that is the hallmark of the ID movement. There is no evidence presented that the new Board members did anything to increase the liability of the District. Almost undoubtedly, if the old Board had still been in place, the ACLU and AUSCS would have sought their full fees which, based on the amount of work done and the personnel involved, would have been well in excess of the $1 million agreed to.

The claim that the Board could have short-circuited the decision and, therefore, the legal fees, is ludicrous. As I have already discussed, a party cannot defend a lawsuit up through the trial and, just at the point that the decision is about to be rendered, simply declare that it won’t do what was complained of anymore and demand that everything be forgiven. The courts are not required to play the fool. With a change back to the old policy only as far away as the next election, Judge Jones would have been totally justified in rendering his decision. Indeed, The test of whether subsequent circumstances have rendered a case moot is said to be a "stringent" one and it must be absolutely clear that the wrongful action could not reasonably be expected to recur before a case is dismissed on that ground.

Even if the new Board was willing to confess a judgment and consent to an order forbidding the policy ever being re-instituted, that would not have prevented legal fees, because the same confession of judgment would be a concession that the Board had violated the Constitution and owed the plaintiff the fees under Federal law. Given that the vast majority of the legal fees had been incurred before the new Board members took their seats, the difference in the amounts would have been minor at best.

This totally unwarranted attack on the good names of people whose only "offense" was to stand up in public for what they believed was right and to oppose the unconstitutional religious aims of the ID movement displays, better than any opponent of ID could possibly do, the bankruptcy of ID both intellectually and morally. It can only remind any thinking person of Judge Jones’ words:

It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

It appears that we can add calumny to the list as well.


Bad as Francisco's post is, apparently it was worse before he or someone else edited it to tone it down. See Ed Brayton's discussion of the . . . well . . . evolution of Francisco's accusations at Ed's blog, Dispatches From the Culture Wars.

The hard reality, I suppose, is that the cost to the taxpayers of Dover of Kitzmiller will probably be a far greater deterrent than any of the scientific arguments to any further moves to include Intelligent Design in school science curricula. From that perspective, therefore, articles like this can be viewed as strengthening that disincentive.
There is no doubt that the money is a deterrent. But the DI is counting on a couple of things: 1) drawing bogus distinctions between Dover and the next place (if they had only played it our way they wouldn't have had to pay) and 2) it was the mean old ACLU which is worth fighting even if it costs a bundle.

Don't forget the Dover Board was warned about the dangers by their own attorney and were able to deceive themselves nonetheless.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

. . . . .


How to Support Science Education