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Rutherford Intervened in Dover Case Too

In Ohio, the Rutherford Institute jumped into the John Freshwater case, though it’s not clear to me in what capacity. His attorney is the same, but at some point after he got fired, Rutherford came in to support him. I suspect maybe they just came in to pay the attorney for him. It hasn’t helped, as he’s lost both appeals since then. But Richard Hoppe reminds me of something I didn’t remember, that Rutherford tried to intervene in the Dover case as well.

In Dover, they tried to legally intervene — that is, tried to represent people trying to actually become parties to the case. On behalf of several parents, they filed a motion to intervene so they could defend the school board’s policy on the grounds that there was a First Amendment right to have ID taught in schools:

The Intervenors seek to participate in this action because, if the Plaintiffs are successful, the lawsuit will have the effect of censoring the Dover Area School District Board and shielding all ninth graders from criticism of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution…

[The intervenors] seek to ensure that their children will have full access to information concerning the theory of evolution, including its many gaps for which there is no evidence. The Applicants further seek to ensure that their children not be denied access to a critical analysis of evolution merely because some persons believe that critics of the theory are religiously motivated. (pp. 2-3)…

The Applicants have a substantial legal interest, rooted in the First Amendment, in making sure that their children are not prevented from learning about intelligent design.

Judge Jones denied that request, of course. The school board was already defending the ID policy and there was no point in having another group defend it as well, as it was the school board being sued.

Rutherford is an unusual organization. The head of the group, John Whitehead, supports silly things like this but at the same time he is also a real civil libertarian. They’ve done a lot of important work on free speech and free exercise cases and Whitehead has been a loud and consistent voice against both Bush and Obama for their unconstitutional polices in the war on terror.

But cases like this are where they go off the deep end. The notion that parents or students have a right to be taught nonsense just because they believe it is absurd and, if adopted by the courts, would render it all but impossible to teach anything in school. The anti-evolution case made by ID advocates is no more credible than the arguments made against any other major idea in science. If Rutherford got their way, we would have to teach dozens of alternative explanations for everything from heliocentrism to relativity. And that’s not even getting into the question of all the alternative ideas one would have to teach in history and other social studies classes.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    As I commented over at Panda’s Thumb on that thread, under the Rutherford doctrine, if a parent wanted it taught that 2 + 2 = 5 as an alternative, the school would have to do so.

  2. raven says

    The Applicants have a substantial legal interest, rooted in the First Amendment, in making sure that their children are not prevented from learning about intelligent design.

    That is what the churches are for.

    This is a major flaw right there. Parents have numerous ways of brainwashing their children in cult religious beliefs and this is perfectly legal. They just can’t use the public schools for it.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    The Applicants have a substantial legal interest, rooted in the First Amendment, in making sure that their children are not prevented from learning about intelligent design.

    They can do that in Sunday school, without inflicting their religion on the general populace of the public school.
    .
    So they wanted to claim First Amendment protection for ID at the same the Discovery Institute crowd was insisting that ID was science, not religion?

  4. Brownian says

    The Applicants have a substantial legal interest, rooted in the First Amendment, in making sure that their children are not prevented from learning about intelligent design.

    Goddidit.

    There. You been taught. We could talk about contemporary issues in evolutionary theory, but that would be teaching evolution, not intelligent design.

  5. says

    including its many gaps for which there is no evidence.

    I hear that a lot, and I rarely know what they’re talking about.

    It usually something like “well evolution doesn’t account for how rocks formed EXPLAIN THAT”

  6. thalwen says

    Do they realise that if, by small chance, that their strategy worked that the same argument could be used to force abstinence only school districts to teach comprehensive sex ed? I mean both sides and all. Oh and the black history side of slavery and the Indian side of American expansion.. and along side that any conspiracy theory or bit of new age woo. Oh right, that would require thinking and I’m pretty sure the fundie version of the bible forbids that.

  7. says

    Hell if they’d won I’d be able to force schools to teach that Britain won the War of 1812 (which they sort of did, in a way)—not to mention the Revolution (Which I’ve heard they might not have).

  8. iknklast says

    Of course, this is also a problem in my field, environmental science, since many people don’t want their children (even their adult children) taught that we have evidence for global warming. I hear it all the time, not only from my associate dean, but from other people who teach the class – oh, this is a conservative state, we don’t talk about that. Huh? Who needs to hear the science more than those who don’t understand it already?

  9. d cwilson says

    @JT (Generic):

    It’s argument by assertion. They believe if they say it enough times, it’ll become true. It’s also their old standby, the god in the gaps fallacy, aka, the Bill O’Reilly tide goes in, tide goes out fallacy.

    If Freshwater is depending Rutherford to get his job back, he’s pretty much screwed. To say the testimony put on during the Dover case was pathetic is understatement. Even Behe, their star witness, was forced to admit on the stand that under his definition of science, schools would have to teach astrology as a science.

  10. jufulu says

    Just a little bit OT. If the Rutherford Institute were allowed to intervene, would the plaintiffs have to deal with both of them during trial. That seems that this would mean it would be a costly endeavor as the plaintiff.

  11. KG says

    full access to information concerning the theory of evolution, including its many gaps for which there is no evidence.

    Well they’re right: there is no evidence for gaps in the theory of evolution.

  12. rbh3 says

    Ed wrote

    In Ohio, the Rutherford Institute jumped into the John Freshwater case, though it’s not clear to me in what capacity.

    Having read all the documentation written by R. Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s personal attorney who now identifies himself as “Affiliate Attorney with the Rutherford Institute,” I’m confident that the brief to the 5th District Court of Appeals and the Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction to the Ohio Supreme Court were both written by Rutherford attorneys, not Hamilton. The appeals brief and MIS put forward new arguments not previously mentioned in Hamilton’s documents. For example, as I recall them, none of Hamilton’s prior pleadings invoke academic freedom as a subset of freedom of speech, while the two referenced documents do. None claim that Freshwater taught “alternative academic theories,” as the two appeals documents do.

    And none of Hamilton’s prior documents are anywhere near as well-written and coherent as the two appeals documents are. See, for example, his 180 page summary brief to the administrative hearing referee. Hamilton’s prose is a turgid mess. In my opinion, Hamilton didn’t write the appeals documents; he merely signed what Rutherford attorneys wrote.

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