Two or three political items before I jump into a writing marathon: First, Michael Ledeen of National Review Online proposes that Zell Miller replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Yes this Zell Miller. And that one, too (thanks to Atrios). I have to admit that seeing Zell challenge one of those “pointy-headed” European leaders to a duel is rather intriguing. I don’t think there’s any real likelihood of Miller being appointed to this office, but the story (very loosely) fit today’s Georgia politics theme.
Now, for some good old Georgia politics. Cobb County seems determined to stage a remake of the Scopes Monkey Trial, right here in Georgia. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, parents have petitioned the schools to put stickers in high school textbooks (super-annoying registration required) stating that evolution is “just a theory.” Several parents have sued the administration, arguing that such a sticker blurs the boundary between church and state. Here are the story’s basics:
“You needed a sort of balance” for discussion, Betty Gray testified in the second day of arguments in a trial over whether the disclaimers should be removed. Gray described her own beliefs about evolution as “faith-based,” and said the board intended for students to feel “an openness to bring up what they needed to.”
Six parents have sued to remove the disclaimers, arguing that the stickers cross the assumed separation of church and state because they expose students to “alternatives” to evolution that are considered unscientific — andreligious — by most scientists.
“The main issue here is quality science education,” Carlos Moreno, an Emory University molecular biologist, testified Tuesday. He had urged the Cobb school board not to use the disclaimers. “What [the disclaimer] says to students is, ‘You don’t really have to buy into this.’ ”
Attorneys for the public school system over the last two days have argued in U.S. District Court that Cobb County was within its right to regulate classroom discussion on a controversial subject, and that included the use of disclaimers in textbooks.
The AJC’s Cynthia Tucker also has a solid editorial arguing against including the stickers. Another AJC editorial offers a fuller explanation for what scientists mean when they use the word theory.
Finally, Georgia’s anti-gay marriage amendment already faces a legal challenge based on the wording of the Amendment:
The lawsuit focuses on the language of the amendment, not whether gay couples should be allowed to marry.
It claims that the amendment violates the Georgia Constitution’s single-subject rule by pertaining to multiple issues. In addition to marriage, the amendment would affect civil unions and the ability of Georgia’s courts to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, the attorneys argue.
The lawyers also contend that the wording of the ballot question that voters saw on Election Day was misleading because it asked only about marriage and not about the other issues the amendment might affect.
“I am glad the courts will finally hear the merits of the case,” said state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), the only openly gay member of the state Legislature.
The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the Atlanta law firm of Alston and Bird in the Fulton County (Atlanta) Superior Court. Just wait until the Georgia state legislature goes back in session in Januray. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.