ADL Files Amicus Brief in Cobb County Evolution Sticker Case
Update: The parties in this case reached a settlement on December 19, 2006. More
Atlanta, GA, June 10, 2005 ... The ADL today joined with other civil rights organizations in filing an amicus ("friend of the court") brief in the eleventh circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in support of the U.S. District Court decision, Selman v. Cobb County School District, which ruled that evolution "warning labels" in public school textbooks were unconstitutional.
In 2002, the Cobb County, Georgia, school board mandated that biology textbooks carry a label pronouncing evolution to be "a theory, not a fact." Local parents, led by Jeffrey Selman, filed suit with the support of the Georgia ACLU. After a trial in the fall of 2004, U.S. District Court Judge Clarence Cooper ruled in January, 2005, that the evolution disclaimer was unconstitutional because it "convey[s] a message of endorsement of religion." The stickers were removed from biology textbooks in May 2005, and the school district appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit.
Deborah Lauter, Southeast Region Director of the ADL, issued the following statement:
While the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of Americans to believe religious theories of creation, it does not permit religious theories to be taught in public school science classes. This distinction is good for religion because it leaves religious instruction to properly trained clergy and to parents, it keeps government out of religious controversies, and it ensures that public school classrooms remain hospitable to an ethnically diverse, religiously pluralistic country. Judge Cooper decided this case correctly and we are optimistic that it will be upheld on appeal.
In 2003 the ADL Southeast Region presented its "Unsung Hero Award" to Jeffrey Selman, for leading the fight on this important issue.
In addition to the civil liberties amicus brief filed by the ADL, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Jewish Committee, four other coalition briefs were filed urging the Court of Appeals to uphold the lower court's ruling: A scientists' brief represents over 60 organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Institute of Physics; a science teachers' brief was signed by the National Association of Biology Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association; a brief detailing the history of creationist attempts to impose warning labels on textbooks mentioning evolution was signed by the National Center for Science Education and People for the American Way; and grassroots organizations including Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education and the Interfaith Alliance, signed the final brief.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.