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Appeals hearing on Selman case on Dec. 15


Three news stories published on December 11, two in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and one in the Washington Post, highlight the case Selman et al v. Cobb County School District and Board of Education. The appeal in the lawsuit over anti-evolution warning labels formerly required in science textbooks in Cobb County, Georgia is on the docket for the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit for December 15. In 2004, Jeffery Selman and four other parents sued the school district, arguing that the anti-evolution stickers, adopted in 2002, advanced a particular religious viewpoint. In January 2005, Federal District Court Judge Clarence Cooper found the warning labels unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Although the school district decided to appeal the decision, the stickers were removed in May upon an order from Cooper.

In "Court upheld state in last similar case," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a panel of three judges will hear oral argument from attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants. The Honorable William H. Pryor, Jr. was appointed to the appeals court by President George W. Bush earlier this year. The Honorable Ed Carnes was appointed by former President George H. W. Bush in 1992. The third member of the panel, the Honorable Frank Hull, was appointed by former President Clinton in 1997.

AJC's article, "'Evolution is theory' sticker on court docket," observes that the Cobb County case joins the recent trial in Dover, PA as a closely-watched, high-profile test of the constitutionality of anti-evolution disclaimers. The article notes that a Louisana disclaimer was struck down in 1999 by the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit which found "... that the disclaimer protected and maintained a particular religious viewpoint." Even if the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the school board, the stickers might not be restored, according to report.

School board member Betty Gray is quoted as saying about removing the stickers, "It was just about the most aggravating and frustrating thing you've ever seen." She is also quoted saying, "But the emotional impact of this is something else."

The Washington Post's "Warning Label on Darwin Sows Division in Suburbia" examines the conflicting views of residents in the largely affluent suburb. The story reports that Marjorie Rogers accepts a literal reading of Genesis and led the effort that resulted in the adoption of the anti-evolution disclaimers by the school board.

Links

'Evolution is theory' sticker on court docket (registration required)
Court upheld state in last similar case (registration required)
Warning Label on Darwin Sows Division in Suburbia)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/10/AR2005121000911_2.html

NCSE website on the Selman appeal