Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Justice and the American Way

Truth may be taking a bit of a beating, however.

As has been widely reported in the science-friendly blogosphere already, the Cobb County, Georgia school board has given up the fight to keep stickers disparaging the scientific standing of evolutionary theory in its biology books. The case had been sent back by the appellate court to the trial court for further proceedings and Judge Cooper had decided on a full trial with expert witnesses and all the attendant costs. Perhaps of no small effect was the involvement in the case on remand of a number of the lawyers from the Dover case, including Eric Rothschild of Pepper Hamilton, the lead lawyer in Kitzmiller.

Then comes the "uh-huh moment":

Linwood Gunn, an attorney for the school board, said the agreement is not an admission that the stickers were unconstitutional, as critics claim.
"When we started down this road, we were threatened with lawsuits by both sides," Gunn said, noting that some parents did not want evolution taught at all. "The school board attempted to reach what they thought was a reasonable compromise."

The board agreed to pay about one-third of the plaintiffs' court costs, Gunn said.
It's being reported that this amounts to $166,659. Of course, if the case went to a full trial, that amount would have skyrocketed. While the settlement may not be an official admission of an unconstitutional act by the board, it is clear to anyone with a lick of sense that this settlement comes because it was obvious that the board's action was neither a compromise nor reasonable. A suit to bar the teaching of evolution would have been a Constitutional non-starter. The board's "solution" to the controversy was a deliberate attempt to use public funds to pander to a sectarian religious belief.

PZ Myers at Pharyngula is right though. While another set of burned fingers is a good deterrent to other school boards, improving science literacy, rather than just fighting to keep it from being degraded further, is the real number one priority.

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