Antievolution lawsuit filed in West Virginia

"A parent of a Jefferson County student has filed a federal lawsuit against local, state and federal education officials claiming the teaching of evolution, which he says is a religion, violates his child’s Constitutional rights," reports the Charleston, West Virginia, Daily Mail (May 21, 2015).

In a complaint (PDF) filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on May 12, 2015, Kenneth Smith contends that teaching evolution in West Virginia's public school constitutes "the propagation of religious faith" and that it hinders his daughter's ability to enter college and to become a veterinarian.

Listed as defendants are the Jefferson County School Board; Michael Martirano, the West Virginia state superintendent of schools; Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health; Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education; and the Department of Education itself. Smith is representing himself.

In his complaint, Smith contends that the defendants "wrongfully violated established clauses" — presumably a reference to the Establishment Clause — in continuing to allow evolution to be taught "[w]hile denying the Plaintiff's accurate scientific mathematical system of genetic variations that proves evolution is a religion."

Smith is apparently the author of The True Origin of Man (iUniverse, 2013), which "represents the truth of mans [sic] origins confirmed by DNA mathematical and scientific facts." The about-the-author line explains, "Kenneth Smith after gaining his science degree has spent many years thereafter studying theology and made the ultimate discovery."

The complaint concludes by asking the court to "declare the policy of evolution, as to be violating of United States Constitutional Amendments" (presumably the First, prohibiting any government establishment of religion, and the Fourteenth, requiring state governments to abide by the restrictions of the Bill of Rights).

Absent from the complaint is any mention of the relevant case law. In McLean v. Arkansas (1982), for example, the court commented, "it is clearly established in the case law, and perhaps also in common sense, that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the Establishment Clause."

Similarly, in Peloza v. Capistrano School District (1994), the court characterized the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) as holding "unequivocally that while the belief in a divine creator of the universe is a religious belief, the scientific theory that higher forms of life evolved from lower forms is not."

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