Kansas officials hope to dismiss a lawsuit over the state's new science standards for schools.
The standards were adopted by the Kansas State Board of Education in June. The group Citizens for Objective Public Education, Inc. (COPE) filed a lawsuit against the state in September, claiming the standards "will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview" because students will be taught about evolution.
Attorneys for the State Board of Education, its 10 members, the Department of Education and Commissioner Diane DeBacker filed a motion to the dismiss the lawsuit on Thursday. They said COPE and the parents it represents lack standing.
In a memo in support of the motion to dismiss, state officials also denied the new science standards violated of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
"The Standards do not advance or inhibit religion. Nor do they endorse religion or excessively entangle the State with religion. This lawsuit, however, risks injecting Plaintiffs’ personal religious beliefs into the Standards. The U.S. Supreme Court has already rejected similar attempts in other contexts."
They also denied that "teaching science or other secular topics is tantamount to teaching atheism."
State officials wrote that some of COPE's allegations were "difficult to understand." The group "baldly allege[s] that 'the use of the [scientific] Orthodoxy to restrict the kinds of explanations permitted in public schools about the natural world infringes on the speech rights of Plaintiffs'" but fails to state how the standards restrict their speech.
"Plaintiffs have failed to plead the most basic elements of a Free Speech Clause claim. The Court should dismiss Plaintiffs’ Free Speech Clause claim on this basis alone," they wrote.
['Elementary School Kids In Science Class Using A Microscope' via Shutterstock]