Rob Crowther reports: California Science Center to Pay Attorneys’ Fees and Settle Open Records Lawsuit by Intelligent Design Group
The California Science Center (CSC) has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute and release records that it previously sought to conceal regarding its cancellation of the screening of a pro-intelligent design film last year.
“After months of stonewalling by the Science Center, this is a huge victory for the public’s right to know what their government is doing, especially when the government engages in illegal censorship and viewpoint discrimination,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
The Science Center continues to “deny any and all liability relating to the claims,” according to the settlement agreement. However, it agreed to pay Discovery Institute’s legal fees and to surrender more than a thousand pages of documents it had been withholding since they were requested under the California Public Records Act last year.
Documents to be released relate to the Science Center’s cancellation of a screening of the science documentary Darwin’s Dilemma in its IMAX theater by the non-partisan American Freedom Alliance (AFA) last October. The AFA has filed its own free speech and breach of contract suit against the Science Center, which is still pending. Darwin’s Dilemma investigates the intelligent design of organisms during the “Cambrian Explosion” more than 500 million years ago.
The Science Center claimed that it had turned over all the documents requested by Discovery Institute, but when Institute staff learned that this was not true the Institute filed suit to compel full disclosure. In response, the CSC made the incredible claim that its key decision-makers, clearly identified as CSC staff on the museum’s website, were really employed not by the museum but by a private foundation and so were immune from the public records request.
“It was an obvious shell game,” explained Discovery Institute staff attorney Casey Luskin. “The California Science Center is a state agency funded by California taxpayers. The public has a right to expect transparency, not secrecy, in government institutions. The Science Center’s attempt to evade public accountability for its actions has been disgraceful.”
Discovery Institute was represented in its lawsuit by Peter Lepiscopo of Lepiscopo & Morrow (San Diego and Sacramento).