5 Looks at the Appellate Victory for Capo Valley High Teacher James Corbett Through Jesus Glasses

UPDATE, AUG. 23, 8:06 A.M.: Just want to give our morning readers a heads up to the debate going on in the comments section to this post from yesterday afternoon, featuring Mr. James "Jesus Glasses" Corbett himself (or someone identifying him/herself as the history teacher at the center of the case).

ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 22, 3:46 P.M.: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Friday in favor of Capistrano Valley High School history teacher James Corbett, who former student Chad Farnan had sued for disparaging his Christian religion with remarks like, "When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth." 

Below are five reactions to the ruling, which essentially states Corbett could not have known whether he was overstepping his bounds because no markers were set in previous rulings.

But first, a quick backgrounder: During Advanced Placement European History lessons at the Mission Viejo high school, Corbett had made comments like this: "The people who want to make the argument that God did it, there is as much evidence that God did it as there is that there is a gigantic spaghetti monster living behind the moon who did it. When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth."

The three-judge panel, which heard oral arguments from each side's attorneys in February, said in its 24-page opinion (which you can read here) that a teacher's comments may sometimes rise to the level of unconstitutional hostility, "[b]ut without any cases illuminating the 'dimly perceive[d] . . . line of demarcation' between permissible and impermissible discussion of religion in a college-level history class, we cannot conclude that a reasonable teacher standing in Corbett's shoes would have been on notice that his actions might be unconstitutional."

Photo by Keith May/OC Weekly
James Corbett, like Chad Farnan, reportedly attends church services.
"My classes have Jews, Hindus, Bahai, Muslims, Buddhists, and others. Chad would demand a special place for his views, but in America, all beliefs should be treated equally by government."
-Corbett (via Orange County Register)

"This looks like a solid win for Corbett, and a wash-out for the creationist student.  . . Chad's lawyers can still run around staging fund-raisers to keep their activities going, but we imagine Dr. Corbett is feeling rather good about the opinion. Unless Chad and his lawyers try to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, it's over. And it's a happy ending."
-The Sensuous Curmudgeon (via The Sensuous Curmudgeon)

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