Attorney's open letter on Selman v. Cobb County textbook sticker case
Re: Your open letter on Selman v. Cobb County decision --
I liked your draft letter on the Selman v. Cobb County case and I would like to add a few comments.
First, I agree with the following excellent points that you made --
(1) The fact that evolution and only evolution is taught shows that the pro-evolution people are the real favored insiders.
(2) Your statement, "It is deeply disturbing that the trial court felt that failure to give the pro-evolution side absolute monopoly control was equal to sending a message to the pro-evolution side that they are 'political outsiders.' "
(3) The plaintiffs in these pro-evolution lawsuits should be required to show that their beliefs about evolution are based on their own independent evaluations of the scientific data as opposed to being based on blind acceptance of the opinions of scientific experts (indeed, in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, the defendants were expected to have made independent studies, and no less should be required of the plaintiffs).
Now for some of my own observations --
According to the district-court opinion in the Selman case, the plaintiffs' view that they were political outsiders was based on the perception that the school board had "sided" with citizens who had allegedly presented a 2300-signature petition and letter urging adoption of the stickers. However, I just read the "Plaintiffs' Pretrial Brief" of the Selman case and could find no specific mention of the alleged petition! This pretrial brief's only statement that might have referred to this petition was vague mention of a "citizen complaint." The brief said (page 3), "Lindsey Tippins brought the citizen complaint to the Board and expressed concern about the section of science textbooks that taught evolution. Redden Dep. at 23-25." Also, this reference is just to a deposition rather than an exhibit of the "citizen complaint" in the case file. Hence, it may be presumed that the plaintiffs' perception of outsider status at the time this pretrial brief was filed was not partly based on the alleged 2300-signature petition. Also, I feel that what matters is what the plaintiffs knew about the history of the stickers and not what other citizens might have known about that history.
Also, I feel that an effort should be made to make establishment-clause decisions universally applicable, so I am against the idea of decisions being based on the particular conditions of the case, e.g., the motives of the public officials, the motives and perceptions of the local citizens, and the local history of the alleged violation, but that is how the Lemon test works.
Also, when cases are remanded in the California state courts (including the municipal and superior courts), the party that lost in the lower court is given the option of requesting a different judge. I think that this is a good idea because the original judge would of course tend to be biased in favor of his original decision. I wonder why litigants in the federal courts are not given this option.
My blog has the following articles concerning the Selman case --
What happened to the Cobb County textbook sticker case?
"Traipsing into breathtaking inanity" II: analysis of Selman v. Cobb County
Sticker shock -- appeals court ducks textbook sticker case
Close votes in Freiler case show shakiness of Selman and Kitzmiller decisions
Aptly named "Lemon test" sucks
Disclaimer sticker for Selman v. Cobb County opinion
Labels: Selman v. Cobb County