Guidelines for monkey-trial defendants
Here are my recommendations for school boards that want to make a monkey-trial test case:
(1) Adopt an evolution disclaimer. Other possibilities are: (i) adopting a curriculum that does not require evolution education (however, a local school district would have to require evolution education if the state science standards require it); and (ii) adopting science textbooks that downplay or ignore evolution. Ironically, the Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County decisions were against the evolution disclaimers of school boards that had adopted strongly pro-Darwinist biology textbooks -- some payback. I do think that evolution should be taught, but we badly need a court victory, and maybe one way to get it is by eliminating evolution from the official curriculum entirely. This idea of excluding something by not supporting it rather than by banning it is not new -- a previous example is Senator Stephen Douglas's "Freeport Doctrine." Reassure voters that leaving evolution education out of the official curriculum is just a temporary measure to create a test case. However, if you do adopt an evolution disclaimer, be sure that there is something to disclaim, i.e., evolution education as a major part of the official curriculum.
(2) Do not mention anything overtly religious in the evolution disclaimer. Do not mention intelligent design. Cobb County's evolution disclaimer would be a good choice.
(3) Urge the judge to use the endorsement test's "political insider/outsider" principle to rule that the evolution disclaimer serves the purpose of reducing Darwinism's offense to fundies and thus making them feel less like political "outsiders."
(4) Discourage the judge from using the disfavored, abominable Lemon test -- it is a sucking kiss of death. Federal courts are not required to use the Lemon test!
(5) Avoid a "Monday morning" battle of expert scientific witnesses. Do not hear expert scientific testimony before adopting the evolution dlsclaimer or other evolution education rule. Cite Edwards v. Aguillard, where the courts refused to hear such testimony. If the judge insists on hearing such testimony, bail out immediately!
(6) Don't worry about costs -- it's not your money. And remember that the same principle applies to lawsuits that applies to yachts -- "if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it." Blame the plaintiffs and their legal representatives for the costs of the lawsuit.
(7) If you bail out early, try using the Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598 (2001) precedent to avoid paying attorney fees to the plaintiffs.
(8) Disparage monkey trial precedents. Kitzmiller v. Dover is easy -- for example, you can point out that (i) the ID-as-science section of the opinion was ghostwritten by the ACLU and that (ii) the judge said in a commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders believed that organized religions are not "true" religions. Point out that Selman v. Cobb County (not a true precedent because it was settled out of court after being vacated and remanded) and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish came close to being overturned.
(9) Use courtroom drama. Print the Kitzmiller opinion on a roll of toilet paper and present it in the courtroom.
(10) Added 9-21-08 -- Argue that criticisms of evolution encourage critical thinking and that this is a secular purpose that is not a sham.
(11) Use this blog as a reference. This blog has dozens of articles about monkey trials and related matters.
Labels: Establishment clause (new #1)