In a bold move, the Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) filed federal suit on September 26 against the state of Kansas for their adoption of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The organization argues that the standards encourage an atheist world-view which violates the establishment, speech, and free exercise clauses under the First Amendment, as well as the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
COPE alleges that the adopted science standards would prompt students to question the origin of humankind without providing an accurate representation on the state of scientific knowledge about it. The lawsuit refutes the idea that science is inherently materialistic. In a press release from COPE, Council John H. Calvert stated, "This case is actually about a concealed Orthodoxy that requires all explanations provided by science to be materialistic / atheistic. It is particularly problematic in the area of origins science which addresses ultimate religious questions, like: Where do we come from? Public education about origins science needs to adequately and objectively inform age appropriate audiences about the use of the Orthodoxy and the relevant information and data it suppresses."
Tensions between evolutionists and creationists are not new. The precedent of using the First and Fourteenth Amendments to challenge the constitutionality of evolutionism dates back to the anti-evolution movement that precipitated the famous Scopes monkey trial. The political atmosphere of the time backed the views of John Williams Bryan, a religiously devout lawyer who influenced the passage of the Butler Act of 1922. Although the guilty verdict of the Scopes trial was overturned on a technicality instead of unconstitutionality, public opinion of the need for the separation of church and state swelled enough to quell the anti-evolution movement from influencing additional legislation for a time. The Butler Act was repealed in 1967 and a year after the Butler Act was repealed, the Supreme Court declared the domination of religious views of creation unconstitutional.
The NGSS that COPE opposes aims to prepare students for college and careers. The standards integrates the understanding of science in context to other content areas, providing for an interdisciplinary approach to student learning. The standards were finalized in June 2013 and were established by a 41-member team from around the country. They have no obligation to cater to creationist viewpoints.