Updated November 2, 2012
David Coppedge was an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL’s international Cassini mission to Saturn, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. A division of California Institute of Technology, JPL operates under a contract with the federal space agency. Coppedge held the title of “Team Lead” System Administrator on the mission until his supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing ideas that superiors labeled “unwelcome” and “disruptive.” Ultimately they fired him. Demotion and termination led to a lawsuit and trial. The latter concluded in April, 2012. The trial court announced on October 31, 2012, its intention to rule in JPL’s favor within 30 days.
News on the Coppedge Case
Former NASA specialist claims he was fired over intelligent design
Associated Press, March 11, 2012
Design flaw? A fired NASA employee says he was let go because of his belief in intelligent design
World Magazine, February 16, 2011
Intelligent Design Proponent Fired from NASA Lab
The Christian Post, January 26, 2011
JPL worker sues over intelligent design demotion
Associated Press, April 19, 2010
Intelligent Design proponent who works at JPL says he experienced religious discrimination
San Gabriel Valley Tribune, April 18, 2010
Discrimination Lawsuit Filed against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab for Harassing and Demoting Supporter of Intelligent Design
Discovery Institute, April 14, 2010
Additional articles about Coppedge Case
Commentary on the Trial and the Evidence in Coppedge Case:
- Due Process Denied: Evidence Challenges JPL's Testimony about Timing of Decision to Demote David Coppedge
>> April 17, 2012: JPL manager Clark Burgess's false claims, given in testimony, appear to be an attempt to rewrite history.
- The Trial of David v. Goliath Jet Propulsion Lab Concludes
>> April 16, 2012: The case, as opposed to the trial, is a long way from being over.
- Ignorance Isn't Bliss: Coppedge's Accusers Don't Understand Intelligent Design
>> April 16, 2012: David Coppedge was surrounded by people on the Cassini project who hadn't studied ID, and knew virtually nothing about it, but were generally hostile towards ID, and despite their self-confessed ignorance, are sure it's a religious viewpoint.
- David Coppedge's Jet Propulsion Lab Accusers Consistently Saying Inconsistent Things
>> April 13, 2012: Apparently Weisenfelder has no problem when political views are expressed at work, so long as she agrees with them.
- Into the Bureaucratic Nightmare of "Human Resources": How JPL's Investigation Denied Fairness and Due Process to David Coppedge
>> March 28, 2012: We have all heard stories of someone who went to the DMV and encountered an employee who just didn't care about helping to solve some problem.
- Getting to "You're Fired": The Final Days of an Intelligent Design Advocate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab
>> March 27, 2012: His last performance review shows Coppedge's supervisors and colleagues with (almost) all their knives out for him.
- Performance Reviews Support David Coppedge's Claim that NASA Punished Him for Advocating Intelligent Design
>> March 22, 2012: "In a brutal take-no-prisoners style, JPL's legal team has done everything it can to impeach Coppedge's account of himself."
- Portrait of a "Harrasser"? Or an Innocent Victim of Bias Against Intelligent Design? In Testimony from Co-workers at JPL, the Real David Coppedge Stands Up
>> April 4, 2012: An illuminating example of how Big Science enforces the "consensus," that we keep hearing so much about from Darwin defenders, against intelligent design.
- The Deep, Dark Secret of NASA's Big, Bad Scary Pro-Intelligent Design Harasser David Coppedge: He's Shy
>> March 15, 2012: Jet Propulsion Laboratory has the burden of showing that Coppedge engaged in "harassment," that he "targeted" co-workers.
- What Exactly Is Being Decided in the David Coppedge "Intelligent Design" Trial
>> March 13, 2012: Opening statements wrapped up today and one thing is beyond doubt: this trial will be misrepresented in the media.
- What David Coppedge Has Already Accomplished by Going to Trial, Even Before Opening Statements
>> March 13, 2012: There has been tremendous international media attention to this story, reasonably fair and factual.
- In the David Coppedge Trial, Intelligent Design Is Where the Threads All Intersect
>> March 14, 2012: Never did NASA's JPL forbid expressions of contempt for ID. JPL only forbade expressions of support for ID.
- An Alcatraz of the Mind: What the Coppedge Trial Will Show
>> March 8, 2012: Let's take a moment to recall the realities of the world of science.
- Why the Coppedge Trial Matters
>> March 6, 2012: Each Sternberg affair, each Gaskell case, each Coppedge trial is like a tile in a mosaic.
- Trial to Begin in Intelligent Design Discrimination Lawsuit against NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab
>> March 5, 2012: Trial begins this week in a lawsuit over whether NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) unlawfully discriminated against an employee for discussing the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID) at work.
- Please, NASA, No More Galileos!
>> November 24, 2011: The David Coppedge case stands as an egregious instance of intolerance toward scientific dissent, so much so that it merits your attention and action, for Caltech runs JPL under contract with NASA, a government agency, and is thus indirectly accountable to the electorate, by which I mean you, dear reader.
- The Perverse Logic of Jet Propulsion Laboratory's "Origins Program"
>> November 22, 2011: NASA's JPL asks "How did we get here?" but adjudicates the question before the evidence it seeks has even come in.
- Why Did NASA's JPL Discriminate Against David Coppedge and Why Does It Matter?
>> November 22, 2011: In the context of ID-suppression cases, this one could be big.
- Judge Sends NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab to Jury Trial for Firing Employee Who Discussed Intelligent Design
>> November 21, 2011: "The upcoming JPL trial will remind employers that it is costly to discriminate against ID in the workplace."
- Coppedge Lawsuit Against NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab Amended to Allege Wrongful Termination
>> March 11, 2011: In light of his being fired in January, David Coppedge's discrimination lawsuit against Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been amended to allege wrongful termination.
- Protest David Coppedge's Persecution, Direct to NASA!
>> January 27, 2011: Get ready now to call (preferably) or at least email Charles Bolden, NASA's administrator, to express your outrage at the fact that Coppedge was fired this week. Here's that contact information: phone: 202-358-1010; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab Fires Cassini Mission Senior Computer Admin Who Filed Discrimination Lawsuit
>> January 25, 2011: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) just dumped a lot of fuel on the fire of David Coppedge's discrimination lawsuit by firing him on Monday. Coppedge's lawsuit against JPL alleges discrimination because he was prevented from talking about intelligent design (ID).
- Correcting Myths About Coppedge’s Intelligent Design Discrimination Lawsuit
>> April 28, 2010: No one told Coppedge to stop discussing ID or giving out these DVDs until March, 2009. And when he was told to stop, he stopped.
Commentary on Media Coverage of the Case:
- The Los Angeles Times Grasps the Heart of the David Coppedge Case
May 2, 2012: Here's a fact that will not go away, regardless of how Judge Hiroshige rules.
- At the Coppedge Trial, a Reporter Gets the Main Point
>> March 19, 2012: The bit about the holiday party, by the way, is one that we have not covered yet here at ENV.
- "Reporting" on the David Coppedge Trial, Time Magazine Joins the JPL Legal Team
>> March 19, 2012: Why bother having a trial at all?
- On David Coppedge Trial, Darwin Bloggers Groping Their Way in the Dark
> March 15, 2012: At the Darwin-defending group blog Panda's Thumb, Nick Matzke and his friends are enjoying a discussion of the Coppedge trial even as they admit that they know hardly anything about the facts.
- David Coppedge and Attorney Take His Case to the Court of Public Opinion
>> March 13, 2012: Today Coppedge and attorney William Becker were on Fox News. The appearance was short but informative.
- Suspicious Circumstances Surrounding David Coppedge's Firing from JPL Explained in Fox News Interview
>> March 13, 2012: In a Fox News interview, David Coppedge and his attorney, William J. Becker Jr., explained the suspicious circumstances surrounding Coppedge's firing from Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) last year.
- Facts of the Coppedge Lawsuit Contradict the Spin from Jet Propulsion Lab and National Center for Science Education
>> March 12, 2012: Coppedge's former employer seeks to suppress the fullest airing of information.
- Coppedge Trial Update: Fox News, AP, Washington Post, UCLA First Amendment Scholar Weigh In
>> March 11, 2012: Coppedge has waived his right to trial by jury and has elected to try the case before Judge Hiroshige who will decide all matters of fact and law.
- At BioLogos, a Disregard for Truth about David Coppedge
>> BioLogos recapitulates false NCSE talking points about the Coppedge case before the evidence in the case is even revealed.
- The ACLU Has a History of Advocating Disparate Treatment for Intelligent Design
>> April 27, 2010: JPL has no policy against talking about intelligent design (ID), and permits employees to express viewpoints that are hostile towards ID, but when an employee expresses pro-ID speech, he's suddenly harassed, investigated, demoted, and told to stop "pushing his religion."
- Is Pro-Intelligent Design Speech During Work Hours “Not Included” in Protections Against Discrimination?
>> April 26, 2010: It's perfectly fine if JPL employees want to attack ID, but JPL cannot then suddenly start punishing those who support ID.
- ACLU Lawyer and ScienceBloggers Make Off-Base Arguments Against Coppedge Case
>> April 21, 2010: Intelligent design is not religion, and nothing in the DVDs that Coppedge shared deals with religion. Even so, it's unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on what they deem is religion.
David Coppedge is an information technology specialist and high level system administrator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Coppedge has worked on the international Cassini mission to Saturn at JPL since 1997, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. In that capacity, he has a wide breadth of knowledge about technical aspects of Cassini's computers and networks and was heavily involved in all the mission operations. From 2000-2009, he held the title of “Team Lead System Administrator” on Cassini until his supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing handing out pro-intelligent design DVDs that were deemed “unwelcome” and “disruptive.” Coppedge has been a faithful and highly regarded JPL employee for many years, has led tours of the lab and has served as an outreach speaker presenting the Cassini findings to civic and astronomy clubs and school groups. Also actively involved in the intelligent design movement, Coppedge serves on the board of Illustra Media, which has produced videos such as Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet—the very DVDs that his employer has tried to suppress at JPL.