Remember the Institute for Creation Research?
This hoary old fundamentalist institution moved from California to Texas, hoping to take advantage of the generally fundie-friendly environment, and continue a practice of granting masters and doctorate degrees in science education to people who would get jobs in schools and teach creationism instead. They had achieved that goal in California with a lawsuit the state regulators rather botched, and by setting up a special accreditation association that would give a pass to the teaching of non-science.
But when they got to Texas, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) had a couple of alert people who blew the whistle on the process of getting a permit to grant degrees. Real scientists and science educators were brought in to evaluate ICR’s programs. They said the programs were not scientific and do not deserve to be accredited.
And then God intervened. At God’s instructions ICR filed legal papers so bizarre that they would, by themselves, expose ICR as a wacko group. ICR’s loss came on the merits of their case, which were nil — it was summary judgment against ICR. Summary judgment means that, even with all the evidence decided in favor of the losing party, that party loses on the basis of the law.
The court took note of just how bizarre were the papers ICR filed. Frosting on the cake of embarrassment.
Judge Sam Sparks, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, stopped short of admonishing ICR for the briefs, and instead sifted the briefs to find judiciable claims — an act that will probably prevent ICR from getting a friendly hearing in any appeal. Sparks wrote:
Having addressed this primary issue, the Court will proceed to address each of ICRGS’s causes of action in turn, to the extent it is able to understand them. It appears that although the Court has twice required Plaintiff to re-plead and set forth a short and plain statement of the relief requested, Plaintiff is entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering, and full of irrelevant information.
Whom God destroys, He first makes mad.
Sparks ruled ICR has no free exercise right to grant non-science degrees, no free speech right, and no due process claim to grant them, either. ICR lost on every count of their complaint.
- The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) presents a straight-up news account of the decision — but it reads like a piece of satire. In any case, it’s humorous and worth a read. One of the problems of covering crank science is that even when government officials and reporters treat it seriously, it’s funny.
- Kudos to Texas Citizens for Science, who stood up for science through the entire, obscure process
- Howard Friedman covers the issue from a serious legal view, at Religion Clause
- P. Z. Myers sneaked in a wry mention of the case, in a post otherwise sympathizing with how tough it is to be a resident of Texas
- Jerry Coyne’s joint goes on at length on part of the bullet Texas seems to have dodged, partly. What would Jesus do? What would Jefferson do? Just when you thought it was safe to dive back into academic discussions