What happened to the Cobb County textbook sticker case?
Here is some information about the case and the appeal --
Background of case and summary of district-court decision
Information about the appeal itself is here, here, here, and here.
At the oral hearing in the appeals court, the judges were very critical of the lower court's decision. Appeals Judge Ed Carnes said that the three-sentence disclaimer seemed to him to be "literally accurate" and told the attorney representing the opponents of the stickers, "Your difficulty is that you've got to take something that actually is reflective of the content of this textbook you like so much, and say it violates the First Amendment." Judge Frank Hull questioned how the district-court judge could have found the sticker's language misleading to biology students when there was no evidence to support that view. There was also a big controversy over the district court's finding that a public petition and a citizen's letter pressured the Cobb County school board into adding the stickers to the textbooks. The letter could not be found, there was confusion over whether the petition was submitted before or after the stickers were adopted, and the petition was not entered into the evidence. I don't know if the controversies over this letter and petition were ever resolved.
It would be a real shame if the ruling on the constitutionality of the textbook stickers hinged on just this letter and petition. This is another good reason why it is long past time to drive a stake through the evil heart of the aptly-named "Lemon test, " which has been falling out of favor but which is still widely used to decide establishment clause cases (including the Dover and Cobb County cases). Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia likened the Lemon test to "some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried" ( see Scalia quotes under the heading, "On the Establishment Clause"). The bloodsucking Lemon test "sucks" in more ways than one.
A reversal of the Selman decision, which appears to be a strong possibility, would put another big dent in Kitzmiller v. Dover, to add to the long list of existing dents (see "Traipsing into breathtaking inanity" on this blog). Dover relied heavily on Selman, which is named 15 times in the Dover opinion (I say "named" rather than "cited" because some single citations name a court case more than once).
I predict that if Selman is reversed, which now appears to be a very strong possibility, similar textbook stickers will start appearing all over the country, maybe even in the Dover Area school district, right under the nose of Judge Jones, bearding the lion in his den (his Dover decision said nothing about textbook stickers).
Labels: Selman v. Cobb County