Caldwells' case against Berkeley Web site being appealed to Supreme Court

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein |
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A local couple is appealing to the United States Supreme Court a dismissal of their lawsuit that took aim at a U.C. Berkeley Web site on evolution. Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute announced Tuesday it had filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s 2006 dismissal of the case in October. The case was filed by Granite Bay resident Larry Caldwell on behalf of his wife, Jeanne Caldwell, and claimed a U.C. Berkeley Web site on evolution pushed a religious viewpoint in violation of the separation of church and state. The site, which was partially funded by the National Science Foundation, included a page titled “Misconception: ‘Evolution and Religion are Incompatible.’” The page said, in part, that many religious groups “have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings,” and also linked to statements from religious organizations to that effect. The lawsuit claimed that amounted to an endorsement of certain religious viewpoints, and that it tried to proselytize those viewpoints to public school students, violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. The suit asked for an injunction against the Web site and declaration the site was unconstitutional. PJI Chief Council Kevin Snider said at issue is whether the Establishment Clause of the Constitution applies in cyberspace. But in rejecting the case, the Ninth Circuit said Jeanne Caldwell’s personal offense at the site’s message was not enough to constitute an injury. Snider said the court could decide whether to hear the appeal within 60 days. For previous coverage click here