Monday, January 02, 2006


New Developments in Cobb County Sticker Appeal

Last month, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- which included judges Edward E. Carnes, Frank M. Hull, and William H. Pryor Jr. -- heard an appeal by the Cobb County School Board of U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper's 2005 ruling that stickers affixed to biology textbooks, saying that evolution is "a theory, not a fact," amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

As we noted at the time, and as Greg Land of the Fulton County Daily Report, reminds us in a Dec. 30 article:

During the arguments, judges sounded highly skeptical of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper. They also upbraided Jeffrey O. Bramlett, the lawyer for the plaintiffs challenging the stickers, for making statements about the timeline of the case that 11th Circuit Judge Edward E. Carnes called "just wrong."
The disputed time-line issue involved just when a petition opposing the purchase of new biology textbooks with evolution instruction had been presented to the board.

Plaintiff's attorneys insisted it was before the board agreed to place stickers on the books in March 2002. Judges Carnes, Hull, and Pryor were under the impression it wasn't until later. Carnes asserted at the hearing that court records indicate the petitions were not presented to the board until six months after the board made its decision in September 2002.

An article following the hearing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that, "Carnes may have been misinformed by an incomplete trial record. On March 29, 2002, the day after the school board agreed to affix the stickers to science textbooks, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Marjorie Rogers told the board she had collected petitions signed by 2,300 people who were dissatisfied with the new science texts."

According to Land's article, "Carnes demanded that Bramlett provide a written explanation of his assertions that the stickers had been placed in the textbooks as a result of Rogers' petition drive."

On Dec. 22, a week after the argument, Bramlett filed a 127-page response that said there were two petitions -- one by Rogers, with more than 2,300 signatures delivered to the school board before the books were purchased, and a smaller petition delivered after the sticker plan was implemented.

The day the 11th Circuit received Bramlett's response, the court issued a one-page letter to Gunn [the school board's attorney] instructing him, by today, to provide "any evidence regarding the timing of any petitions that may have been filed with the School Board."

Three unsuccessful attempts were made to reach Gunn, of Marietta's Brock, Clay & Calhoun, prior to the Daily Report's going to press Friday...

While the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article ascribes the time-line problem to an "incomplete trial record," the notes:

Bramlett's claims had been called into question by Cobb County's attorney, Ernest Linwood Gunn IV, whose brief said the petition had not been circulated until four months after the disclaimers were inserted into the books.
It couldn't be, could it, that the Cobb County School Board's defense is as fact-challenged as the Dover Area School Board's case turned out to be? Surely, no one involved with the defense of the stickers would be wicked enough to tell an untruth.

At the time the appeals court hearing was held, Robert Crowther asked, "Did the ACLU Lie to the Federal Courts in the Cobb County Evolution Sticker Case?" in a post on the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog. Could it now turn out that it was Gunn and the school board -- in an echo of Dover -- who lied.

And, if they did lie, when, exactly, do you suppose Crowther and Discovery will issue an apology to the ACLU and post a correction on Evolution News and Views? We know that they will do it, because, as they never tire of telling us, their biblically-inspired moral code is far superior to the decadent relativism embraced by those of us who suffer under the yoke of reason.


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