A federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif., has ruled that a public high school history teacher violated the First Amendment when he called creationism “superstitious nonsense” during a classroom lecture.
U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled May 1 in a lawsuit that student Chad Farnan filed in 2007 alleging that teacher James Corbett had violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment by making repeated comments in class that were hostile to Christian beliefs.
During the course of the litigation, the judge found that most of the statements cited in the court papers did not violate the First Amendment because they did not refer directly to religion or were appropriate in the context of the classroom lecture.
But Judge Selna ruled that one comment, in which Mr. Corbett referred to creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense,” did violate Mr. Farnan’s constitutional rights. Mr. Corbett, a 20-year teaching veteran, remains at Capistrano Valley High School.
A version of this article appeared in the May 13, 2009 edition of Education Week