Kansas answers COPE

Will a federal court dismiss a lawsuit seeking to prevent Kansas from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards? In documents filed on December 5, 2013, the defendants in COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al. asked the United States District Court for the District of Kansas to dismiss the suit, saying (PDF) that the court lacks jurisdiction over all claims asserted in the complaint and that the complaint fails to state a claim against the defendants.

As NCSE previously reported, the complaint contends (PDF) that the NGSS and the Framework for K-12 Science Education (on which the NGSS are based) "will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview ... in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment" (pp. 1-2).

The lead plaintiff, COPE, Citizens for Objective Public Education, is a relatively new creationist organization, founded in 2012, but its leaders and attorneys include people familiar from previous attacks on evolution education across the country, such as John H. Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network. The Kansas board of education voted to adopt the NGSS in June 2013, as NCSE previously reported, and COPE's lawsuit is evidently attempting to undo the decision.

In a memorandum supporting the motion to dismiss the suit, the defendants argued (PDF) that the state board of education and the state department of education are entitled to sovereign immunity to the suit, that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the board's decision, that the plaintiffs failed to state any Establishment Clause claim, and that the plaintiffs failed to state a Free Exercise, Free Speech, or Equal Protection claim either.

Previously, when the lawsuit was originally filed, Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas's Center for Science Education, told the Associated Press (September 26, 2013), "This is about as frivolous as lawsuits get." NCSE's Joshua Rosenau concurred, saying that the argument was familiar but silly. Rosenau later examined the complaint in light of Calvert's previous writings on the topic, contending that they "explain where the reasoning of his current suit fails."

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