Calif. Science Center Allows Intelligent Design Film to Be Shown

The American Freedom Alliance will be allowed to present a pro-intelligent design event at the California Science Center, two years after it filed a lawsuit against the center.

In a settlement, the center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, paid $110,000 and invited AFA back to its facility after it previously canceled the pro-intelligent design screening.

"This is an historic victory for the ID movement," said Casey Luskin, an attorney and policy analyst with Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture, in a statement Monday.

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"The First Amendment forbids government preference for one viewpoint over another, yet evidence disclosed in this case shows the CSC, Smithsonian Institution, and LA County Museum of Natural History attempted to stifle dissent from Darwinism. The result was illegal state-sponsored suppression of protected speech."

AFA had a contract with the science center to screen "Darwin's Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record" in October 2009 at its IMAX theater. It was scheduled as the film's premiere.

But weeks before the event, the center canceled the contract.

AFA contended in its lawsuit that its free speech rights were violated and alleged that CSC officials "conspired to drop the event because they did not want the museum to be viewed as legitimizing intelligent design as a scientific theory."

Notably, AFA had also planned to show a pro-evolution film, "We Are Born of the Stars," to provide balance to a discussion about life's origin after the screening.

The Discovery Institute considers the canceled event part of an "ongoing trend of discrimination against intelligent design."

William J. Becker Jr., who represented AFA in the lawsuit, commented, "This is the first free speech case for the ID movement, and its first victory in that field."

"This settlement represents an acknowledgement that a state-owned science institution sought to censor an event solely because it related to ID. It's a vindication for ID, and First Amendment guarantees of free speech."

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