The Courts have ruled in the Creationist case against the University of California, and once again the creationists lose. This time it is a partial summary judgement. The lawsuit was brought by an association of Christian schools who contended that UC unfairly discriminated in rejecting certain courses in those Christian schools as worthy of UC's admissions standards. For a good discussion, see Mike Dunford's 3-part effort. For my contribution, I'm going to focus on some gems from the 51-page ruling that show just how reality-averse the creationists are. At every turn they seem not to understand what evidence is, or what the difference is between facts and speculation.
Before I do that however, it is worth noting that, like Dover, the creationists couldn't have done better in their draw of judges. Judge James Otero is another conservative George W. Bush nominee. So these comments come from a judge that ostensibly was on their side:
"The evidence establishes that Defendants [The Univ of Cal.] do not have a policy of rejecting courses solely because the courses add a religious viewpoint. Plaintiffs [the Christian schools] provide no evidence of an actual policy. Instead, Plaintiffs rely on the existence of course rejections and abstract hypothetical situations..."
Sound familiar? Their legal reasoning mirrors their scientific reasoning exactly: Gather up some anecdotes, hypothesize the solution you want, and stop there. Oh, and accuse anyone who demands evidence of being biased. I'll give them one thing, they are nothing if not consistent.
Plaintiffs must show more than the 'mere existence of a scintilla of evidence...; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find' for the Plaintiffs...'[Plaintiffs] must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'
This is that maddening burden-of-proof shifting they are always doing. No matter what the facts, in the end it is always the IDers claiming the tiniest scrap of doubt of evolution as victory, while demanding infinitely more evidence from their opposition. They always think they should win by default, so in positions like this one where the burden of proof is on them, they flail madly.
Plaintiffs argue that Forbes, American Library, and Finley 'do not apply to [UC] admissions decisions and do not apply to [UC's] rejections of private school courses,' yet provide no principled reason to depart from the reasoning of these two cases.
How would you like to be a recent graduate on his first case and have your work described as providing no principled arguments? You can hear the judges irritation rise as you read this ruling. The creationists strategy in these trials seems to be to throw as much shit against the wall as they can in the hopes that something will stick, and then scream conspiracy if nothing does, citing their massive pile of shoddy evidence as proof. If there is one thing creationists are also consistent about, it is disregard for quality of evidence.
Plaintiffs futilely attempt to distinguish Forbes by incorrectly characterizing the decision as one involving "a public school prescribing its curriculum." Forbes did not involve a public school; it involved a public television station.
Speaking of amateur hour, here are the creationist lawyers mistaking an analogy of a precedential case (a public school) as what the case was actually about (a public TV station).
It goes on and on like that, for 51 pages. Here are some tidbits from the rest of the judge's ruling:
"provides no evidence"
"conclusion with no factual basis"
"of little value without concrete factual support"
"rely heavily on the erroneous assumption"
"provided little evidence"
"Plaintiff's argument is misplaced"
"Plaintiffs provide no test at all in their opening brief"
"Plaintiffs make no attempt to analyze these allegedly hostile actions under Lemon"
"Some of the Plaintiff's allegations can be discarded immediately as unworthy of summary judgement"
"plaintiffs provided no evidence"
"Plaintiff's evidence was less than compelling"
and my personal favorite:
"UC is under no duty to employ only those individuals whose religious beliefs coincide with the Plaintiffs"
This has got to be a devastating loss to the creationists, perhaps even more so than Dover was. Another Bush appointee not only ruled against them, but in a style that would make me want to change professions were I among the losing attorneys. The legal space for Intelligent Design to sneak through keeps getting smaller.
This case could hold the key. The university system can stop a lot of this madness simply by refusing to grant credit for creationist courses, whatever their name might be. After all, we can't be at every school board at once. Let's just hope the creationists keep bringing cases as poor as this to court.