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California Science Center Sued for Cancelling Screening of Intelligent Design Video

Casey Luskin

A lawsuit has been filed against the California Science Center by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) for cancelling the AFA’s contract to screen the Darwin’s Dilemma documentary on October 25th. According to AFA’s press release:

American Freedom Alliance (AFA), a non-profit group, has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against a popular science museum for cancelling an event exploring the topic of intelligent design. The group says its free speech rights were violated when the California Science Center (CSC) abruptly reversed a decision to allow the showing of a pro-intelligent design documentary at the museum’s IMAX Theater. The program was also scheduled to screen a pro-evolution film, but, the lawsuit alleges, museum officials were fearful of having intelligent design discussed in any context.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first since the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v. Dover to consider the public’s right to learn about intelligent design. While that case focused on whether a public school violated the First Amendment “No Establishment Clause” by instructing students about the theory, AFA’s lawsuit alleges that the museum violated its First Amendment rights by caving in to demands within the scientific and academic communities to deny intelligent design a public forum for discussion.

Discovery Institute is not a party to AFA’s lawsuit, nor was it a party to AFA’s original contract with the California Science Center. AFA’s statement explains that:

The lawsuit alleges that CSC officials conspired to drop the event because they did not want the museum to be viewed as legitimizing intelligent design as a scientific theory. It alleges that the museum’s CEO/President, Jeffrey Rudolph, was pressured to cancel the event by colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Southern California, the Huntington Library and elsewhere. The complaint further alleges that because the CSC is a state agency, it violated AFA’s First Amendment right of free speech by attempting to suppress legitimate discussion of the controversial topic.

AFA’s attorney William J. Becker was quoted in the statement saying:

“Certain museum officials and their cronies in academia and throughout the scientific community are part of a subtle but effective movement to marginalize a scientific theory that challenges their world view,” said AFA’s attorney, William J. Becker, Jr., of The Becker Law Firm in Los Angeles. “The public should be allowed to make up its own mind whether intelligent design has any merit. Any time public officials stand in the way of legitimate debate, they reveal their hostility toward intellectual freedom, which the Constitution is designed to safeguard.”

Stay tuned for more details on this case from ENV.

 

Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.

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