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National Legal Organization Backs Coppedge Lawsuit Over Jet Propulsion Lab Discrimination Against Intelligent Design

Casey Luskin

Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a national legal organization whose allied attorneys have logged over 100 million dollars worth of pro bono hours of legal work, has issued a statement backing David Coppedge’s lawsuit against Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A recent article in the Christian Post reporting on the ADF news release summarizes Coppedge’s plight:

Last March [2009], Coppedge was accused of “pushing religion” on his co-workers after he began engaging colleagues in conversations about intelligent design — a theory that life and the existence of the universe derive not from undirected material processes but from an intelligent cause — and offering DVDs on the subject when the co-worker expressed interest.

His supervisor, Gregory Chin, allegedly received complaints from employees and threatened the long-time employee with termination if he persisted with his intelligent design discussions.

Coppedge said he would comply with the orders not to discuss the theory, politics or religion in the office but felt his constitutional rights were violated.

He later received a “written warning” which stated that his actions were harassing in nature and created a disruption in the workplace. Thereafter, he was removed from the team lead position in order to “lessen the strife” in the work area. His demotion was announced on a memo that was distributed on April 20, 2009.

According to the amended complaint, Coppedge said he was never told by a co-worker that his discussion of intelligent design was unwelcome or disruptive to their work. He was offered no specific details of the charges allegedly made by other co-workers.

As noted in the article, an amended complaint was recently filed in Coppedge’s case by his attorney, William J. Becker Jr., a First Amendment attorney based in Los Angeles. In California, plaintiffs are generally entitled to amend the complaint once without leave before the defendant answers the original complaint. This is commonly done, often for procedural reasons or to make sure that causes of action are properly alleged so as to avoid any prospect of dismissal on a demurrer. The amended complaint now becomes the operative complaint in the case, and it can be downloaded here.

We have previously defended Coppedge’s lawsuit against various misguided attacks and criticisms at the following posts:

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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