Friday, December 16, 2005

Critical Thinking May Be Constitutional After All

There are several news stories on the oral arguments in the Selman v. Cobb County textbook sticker case. The impression you get from reading all the reports is that it was not a great day for the Darwinian fundamentalists.

The Washington Post AP article is here:
A federal appeals panel Thursday questioned the accuracy of a judge's ruling that a disclaimer in school textbooks describing evolution as "a theory, not a fact" represents an endorsement of religion.

"I don't think you all can contest any of the sentences" on the disclaimer sticker, Judge Ed Carnes of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told an attorney arguing for parents who sued.

"It is a theory, not a fact; the book supports that," Carnes said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's article is here:

Federal appeals court judges gave a hostile reception Thursday to a lower court decision that ordered Cobb County to scrape off evolution disclaimer stickers from almost 35,000 science textbooks.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is not expected to rule until next year, but the three judges' skeptical questioning indicated they may be poised to side with the Cobb school board in the now-famous sticker case. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper found that the stickers, which say evolution is a "theory, not a fact," improperly endorsed religion.

This article notes that even the Clinton appointee (a woman named Frank) on the three judge panel may vote to approve the stickers:

And Judge Frank Hull wondered how Cooper could have found that the sticker's language misleads biology students when there was no evidence to support that view. "The order's problematic," said Hull, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

The LA Times article is here:

A federal appeals court panel appeared sharply critical Thursday of a ruling this year that ordered the removal of stickers in science textbooks stating, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact."

Judge Ed Carnes of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the lower court judge had misstated facts in his ruling, overstating the influence religious protests had on the school board's actions. He also said the words on the sticker are "technically accurate," and that the Cobb County school board was justified in singling out the theory of evolution for comment.

"From nonlife to life is the greatest gap in scientific theory," Carnes said. "There is less evidence supporting it than there is for other theories. It sounds to me like evolution is more vulnerable and deserves more critical thinking" than other subjects.

This article includes a quote from John West:
"They found pretty serious sloppiness on the part of the judge and on the part of the ACLU," West said of the appellate panel. "Finally, we have a group of federal judges who are being properly skeptical of what we regard as overreaching claims."

An AJC article with background on the judges is here, and commentary from the Evolution News blog is here.


At December 16, 2005 8:41 PM, Blogger stewie said...

Obscuring the scientific and layman definitions of "theory" is hardly "critical thinking."

At December 16, 2005 11:31 PM, Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

I didn't click through to see if the AJC article you cite is the same one, but an AJC article says that Judge Carnes is confused about the timeline. The alleged sloppiness in the ACLU's brief is really an error on Carnes' part. Check the relevant recent posts in the last day at The Panda's Thumb

At December 17, 2005 8:17 PM, Blogger Sailorette said...

The old judge and the ACLU are obviously messed up-- saying "this is a THEORY, the definition of which you are supposed to have been taught while you are learning this" isn't saying "Ah-ha! Science is WRONG!!!! Allah made us all!"

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