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Discovery Institute Sues California Science Center for Suppressing Public Documents Showing Viewpoint Discrimination Against Intelligent Design

Los Angeles, CA — Discovery Institute has filed a lawsuit against the California Science Center (the “Center”) for unlawfully refusing to disclose public documents requested by Discovery Institute under the California Public Records Act.

Discovery Institute filed the public documents request on October 9, 2009, following the Center’s October 6, 2009 cancellation of a contract with the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) to screen a pro-intelligent design video, Darwin’s Dilemma, at the California Science Center’s IMAX Theatre on October 25, 2009.

On November 2, 2009, the Center released 44 pages of documents claiming to have disclosed “all documents” and that “no documents have been withheld,” apart from a few e-mail addresses that were redacted.

“California Science Center’s claims are not true, and we know for a fact that e-mail communications exist, including communications with the Smithsonian Institution, that should have been disclosed in response to our public documents request but weren’t, showing clear violation of California’s Public Records Act,” said Casey Luskin, Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute.

“The Center withheld public communications by decision makers who cancelled the contract with AFA,” said Luskin. “We believe the reason the California Science Center withheld these public documents is simple: the e-mails show evidence of discrimination against the pro-intelligent design viewpoint.”

Discovery Institute’s lawsuit follows a separate lawsuit filed against the California Science Center by the AFA for cancelling its contract to show the pro-intelligent design video.

“We also have evidence that the California Science Center had written communications with the Smithsonian Institution expressing angst over the AFA’s pro-intelligent design event,” explained Luskin. “Yet not a single e-mail, letter, or other document disclosed by the California Science Center mentions the Smithsonian, even though our public documents request specifically asked for documents referencing the ‘Smithsonian’.”

The California Public Records Act guarantees the public “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right.”

“If the Center wrongfully refused to disclose certain now-known public documents, how many other public documents remain to be uncovered that evidence the California Science Center’s viewpoint discrimination?” asked Luskin. “We hope this lawsuit will answer that question.”

The lawsuit was filed in State Superior Court in Los Angeles County. Docket number: BS123905.