The state-run California Science Center (CSC) has paid $110,000 to settle a lawsuit by American Freedom Alliance (AFA) against CSC for violating AFA’s First Amendment free speech rights to advocate intelligent design (ID). As part of the settlement, the CSC also has invited AFA to present the ID event it previously cancelled.
CSC rented its IMAX theater to AFA to show Darwin’s Dilemma, a science documentary advocating ID. However, when CSC learned the film would portray ID favorably, CSC cancelled AFA’s event. AFA filed suit in California Superior Court alleging viewpoint discrimination and breach of contract.
“This is an historic victory for the ID movement,” said Casey Luskin, an attorney and policy analyst with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “The First Amendment forbids government preference for one viewpoint over another, yet evidence disclosed in this case shows the CSC, Smithsonian Institution, and LA County Museum of Natural History attempted to stifle dissent from Darwinism. The result was illegal state-sponsored suppression of protected speech.”
AFA was represented by William J. Becker Jr., of the Becker Law Firm, who was supported in the case by the Rutherford Institute. The case number is BC 423687.
“This is the first free speech case for the ID movement, and its first victory in that field,” said Becker. “This settlement represents an acknowledgement that a state-owned science institution sought to censor an event solely because it related to ID. It’s a vindication for ID, and First Amendment guarantees of free speech.”
This case reflects the ongoing trend of discrimination against intelligent design. In January, the University of Kentucky paid $125,000 to settle a lawsuit by astronomer Martin Gaskell who was wrongfully denied employment because he was perceived to be skeptical towards Darwinian evolution. (Gaskell actually considers himself a “theistic evolutionist,” but he stated “there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory” and respectfully cited the work of intelligent design proponents Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson in online notes for one of his talks.) Soon after the settlement of Gaskell’s case, Applied Mathematics Letters paid $10,000 and publicly apologized to avoid litigation after it wrongfully withdrew mathematician Granville Sewell’s paper critiquing neo-Darwinism.
“Although Discovery Institute did not host the event, and was not a party to this lawsuit, we were dragged into the case when CSC sought to compel disclosure of thousands of pages of internal documents,” said Joshua Youngkin, Discovery Institute’s Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs. “This case warns bullies in the Darwin Lobby there will be consequences for trying to suppress free speech on evolution.”