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Trial to Begin in Intelligent Design Discrimination Lawsuit against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab

March 5, Los Angeles –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. The jury trial is set to begin Wednesday, March 7.

David Coppedge, a 14-year JPL veteran and team lead computer administrator on the Cassini Mission to Saturn, was reprimanded and demoted after lending ID-related DVDs to coworkers, By contrast, anti-ID workers at JPL faced no similar restrictions on expressing their views. After Coppedge filed suit to protect his free expression rights, JPL terminated him.

“Evidence shows that taxpayer-funded JPL harassed, demoted and terminated Coppedge after he expressed a pro-ID scientific viewpoint disliked at JPL and wrongly labeled as ‘religion’ by JPL decision-makers,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.

“Whatever your views on intelligent design, you should be concerned about the pervasive culture of discrimination that appears to exist at this NASA facility,” added West.

Last November, a California Superior Court judge ruled there “are triable issues of fact as to whether Plaintiff’s demotion, written warning, negative performance evaluations, and ultimate termination were adverse employment actions” which involved discrimination. That ruling allowed the case to proceed to trial.

Coppedge is represented by William J. Becker, Jr. of the Becker Law Firm, who has been supported in the case by Alliance Defense Fund. The case number is BC435600.

Since 2011, the California Science Center, University of Kentucky, and the journal Applied Mathematics Letters each paid settlements ranging from $10,000 to more than $100,000 to avoid trial for suppressing Darwin-doubting viewpoints.

According to West, “open discussion in science is under growing attack by the Darwin lobby, which wants to impose a gag order on anyone who dares to raise criticisms of Darwin’s theory. This kind of persecution and censorship cannot be allowed to prevail in a free society.”

Background information on the case is available.

Andrew McDiarmid

Senior Fellow, Media Relations and Assistant to the Director
Andrew McDiarmid is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He also serves as Assistant to CSC Director Stephen C. Meyer, a Media Relations Specialist, and a contributing writer to He holds an MA in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University and a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Washington. His tech column at Newsmax, Authentic Technology, explores today's technology landscape and encourages readers to live authentically in the digital age. His writing has appeared in the New York Post, Houston Chronicle, The Daily Wire, San Francisco Chronicle, The American Spectator, The Federalist, Real Clear Politics, Technoskeptic Magazine, and elsewhere. In addition to his roles at the Discovery Institute, he is host of the Scottish culture and music podcast Simply Scottish, available anywhere podcasts are found. Learn more about his work at