Jul 6, 2010
As regular readers of this blog will remember, Christine Comer was forced to resign as the Texas Education Agency’s director of science curriculum back in 2007 when she forwarded an email announcing a lecture by Barbara Forrest promoting the teaching of evolution and criticizing “intelligent design.” The agency accused Comer of violating its policy requiring neutrality when talking about evolution and creationism.
In 2008, Comer filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the policy, but a federal judge dismissed the case. Comer then asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision. But late last week, it upheld the lower court’s decision, finding the agency’s policy is not unconstitutional.
As Judge Fortunato Benavides explains in the decision, posted by the NCSE:
Upon review of the record and applicable law, we cannot conclude that TEA’s neutrality policy has the “primary effect” of advancing religion. The fact that Comer and other TEA employees cannot speak out for or against possible subjects to be included in the curriculum—whether the considered subjects relate to the study of mathematics, Islamic art, creationism, chemistry, or the history of the Christian Crusades—their silence does not primarily advance religion, but rather, serves to preserve TEA’s administrative role in facilitating the curriculum review process for the Board.