Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ICR Sues State of Texas for Discrimination

The Institute for Creation Research has filed suit in District Court in Dallas to have the decision made by the Texas Higher Education Board to deny them degree-granting status overturned. As Holly Hacker of the Dallas Morning News writes:
The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Dallas, alleges that the higher-education agency rejected the degree program because of the institute's claim that scientific evidence shows the earth is only 6,000 years old.

Among the institute's arguments in the lawsuit: "The monopolistic realities of the science education market in Texas (and in America generally) would limit creationist learners to science education opportunities from evolutionist graduate schools."

It says the institute is "the only graduate school which specializes in creationism-informed science education."

"Creationism-informed science education." This is a euphemism for the young earth six-day creation that the organization teaches. Freespace has more on this:
Anyway, the allegations are that THECB has violated various constitutional rights by denying it certification on the basis of its religious viewpoint. ICR argues, among other things, that Chapter 61 of the Texas Education Code is unconstitutional. That chapter establishes the THECB and gives it the authority to regulate the issuing of “degrees” as that term is statutorily defined. No person or institution, whether public or private, may issue a degree—that is, a document that includes words like “Bachelor’s Degre” [sic]—without obtaining state permission first.
As Mr. Sandefur points out, there are legitimate first amendment rights that are potentially involved in this issue. The problem, of course, is that the ICR doesn't teach real science and the THECB knows this. The vote in this matter was 12-0. That does not suggest a smattering of different ideas on the issue. That is not the only problem. The ICR suit asks the court that the THECB be required to approve their curriculum:
That said, what ICR wants isn’t just the right to issue its own diplomas; it also wants the court to order THECB to give it certification. Now, certification is more than permission to issue degrees; it’s also a seal of approval. And while anyone has the right to publish what he likes, nobody has the right to a state-issued seal of approval on that thing. What ICR wants is respectability, without earning it, and without having a constitutional right to it.
It is difficult to see how this suit will prevail. The state can always trot in a wide range of scientists who can testify to the nonsense that the ICR teaches, framing the discussion not in terms of First Amendment issues but rather sound science policy. It is interesting/disturbing to see groups like the ICR turning to the courts instead of the arena of public appeal to get their ideas put into law. Normally a hallmark of the left, increasingly, conservative groups are seeing that this is fertile soil and are jumping on the bandwagon. This does not bode well. His point about the ICR demanding respectability is also a trademark of creationism groups and is similar to the "teach the controversy" tactic employed by some to give the YEC model an air of legitimacy that modern science, correctly, rejects.

No comments:

Post a Comment