Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More on UC victory over Christian school

I was delighted to see the final victory of the University of California over a Christian high school in California the other day. Blog posts about the case and the final result may be found here, here, and here. The first two include a link to the pdf of the final decision, the third site had a number of posts about the case over the last couple years -- including analysis back in March when the constitutionality of UC's admission standards (the legality of their evaluation and failure of courses taught at different high schools) was upheld. The first of these, by Ed Brayton, contains another example of the incompetence of the Christian School's lawyers, from an organization known as ACSI -- Association of Christian Schools International.

Ed writes:
This passage is amusing:

Defendants argue that Plaintiffs waived any animus argument when Plaintiffs' counsel stated "We do not intend to argue the case based on proving animus" at the hearing on the parties' first round of summary judgment motions. Plaintiffs dispute this argument, explaining that they did not intend to argue animus until this Court used that term to describe the punishment of disfavored viewpoints prohibited by National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, 524 U.S. 569, 587 (1998).

Amusing. "We said we weren't going to argue animus until the judge reminded us that we needed to in order to fit the precedents we were citing." Law school 101. Regardless, they didn't actually present any evidence of animus anyway:

Here, Plaintiffs provide no evidence of animus. Instead, Plaintiffs essentially argue that Defendants had no rational basis for their actions and therefore they must have been motivated by animus. This argument adds nothing to the constitutional analysis; if Defendants had no rational basis, the Court need not reach the issue of animus.

Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.

The court decided back in March that the review of courses by UC officials was constitutional and this final decision was about the status of courses as-applied. The final verdict: universities have the right to review courses and decide which ones adequately prepare students for college and which ones don't. Having attended a Catholic high school, I seem to recall that all of us knew that the religion classes weren't going to count for college but most other classes did (at least 80% of the school's graduates went to college -- and students were accepted into Ivy League schools every year). I had high school biology before the 1987 Supreme Court decision that effectively outlawed creationism (the school, being private, was not subject to that decision anyway) and cannot say that evolution was covered (it may have been, but I don't have any memory of it so maybe it wasn't; my fifth grade teacher, also at a Catholic school, did talk about evolution though). Everything else was academically solid, even if the classes weren't necessarily the best -- I don't recall any classes that were "Catholics in American History" or anything like that, which is part of what this high school had done.

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