In September of 1991, a biology teacher named John E. Peloza sued the Capistrano Unified School District (Orange County, California) for forcing him to teach evolution as scientific fact, and for prohibiting him from discussing his religious beliefs with students during instructional time. Represented by the Rutherford Institute, Peloza claimed that these policies, and an alleged conspiracy among his administrators and fellow teachers to harass and defame him, violated his freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and rights to due process and equal protection. As part of his case, he argued that "evolutionism" was part of the "religion of secular humanism."
On January 17, 1992, District Judge David Williams dismissed the entirety of Peloza's claims. The court later determined that Peloza's complaint was "frivolous and unreasonable and was filed without adequately researching the subject," and accordingly ordered Peloza to pay the district's legal fees. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the latter decision, finding that Peloza's claim was "not entirely frivolous." However, the appeals court affirmed the district court's dismissal of his claims. Upon further appeal, the United States Supreme Court declined to review the case.
Key legal documents for this case are provided below. They are arranged in chronological order.