It has the potential to be fun or a fizzle. The Discovery Institute is leaping to the defense of David Coppedge, a computer technician (don’t be fooled, the DI is desperately straining to enhance his credentials) who was demoted and then fired at the JPL. Coppedge claims to be the victim of discrimination against his views on Intelligent Design creationism; the JPL has argued that he was out of line to be harassing scientists with nonsense, passing out DVDs of ID BS, pushing his silly creationist website, and basically wasting his time and not doing his job. They warned him, he persisted. They demoted him, he persisted. Finally they fired him.
So now Coppedge, with the assistance of a fine team of creationist lawyers, is suing the JPL. There’s lots of information at The Sensuous Curmudgeon, which is shaping up to be the go-to place to follow the trial, which started today.
This is a big case for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). They’re trying to establish some new kind constitutional right — an employee’s freedom to promote creationism in the workplace. One of their top legal talents, Discoveroid Casey Luskin, is advising the lawyer for Coppedge — that’s William J. Becker, Jr., who (until he picked up a few creationist clients) appears to be mostly a personal injury and workers’ comp lawyer.
To promote the issue, the Discoveroids initially waged a public relations campaign which we described here: The Coppedge Case: A Study in Tactics and Strategy. They’ve set up a page devoted to this case, which is here, but which seems to have languished for months.
The official information source for the Coppedge case requires payment of fees to obtain copies of pleadings from the court clerks here: Superior Court of California, Los Angeles. At the box for “Case Number” you need to enter BC435600. Some minimal information is available for free — the names of the parties and their lawyers, a list of what documents have been filed, what proceedings have been held, and what future hearings have been scheduled.
It’s going to be a weird trial. It sounds like the JPL was reasonable and put up with Coppedge for quite some time, clearly telling him to desist in his problematic behavior at work; The Discovery Institute has nothing to lose — Coppedge is a nobody — and their enthusiasm for the case has waxed and waned. We’ll see if they put up a fight or not.
(Also on Sb)