(CBS/AP) A federal judge on Thursday ordered the removal of stickers placed in high school biology textbooks that call evolution "a theory, not a fact," saying they were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
The disclaimers were put in the books by school officials in suburban Cobb County in 2002.
"Adopted by the school board, funded by the money of taxpayers, and inserted by school personnel, the sticker conveys an impermissible message of endorsement and tells some citizens that they are political outsiders while telling others they are political insiders," U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said in his 44-page ruling.
"This is a great day for Cobb County students," said attorney Michael Manely, who represented parents who brought the suit. "They're going to be permitted to learn science unadulterated by religious dogma."
Doug Goodwin, a spokesman for Cobb County schools, said officials did not have an immediate response but were preparing a statement.
"Look for this ruling to be appealed," said CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen, "first to the circuit court and then perhaps even on to the U.S. Supreme Court. There are enough of these sorts of cases now popping up, and enough fairly inconsistent lower court rulings, for the justices to perhaps be interested in resolving the matter."
Six parents of students and the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the stickers in court, arguing they violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
The case was heard in federal court last November, where the school system defended the warning stickers as a show of tolerance, not religious activism as some parents claimed.
"The Cobb County school board is doing more than accommodating religion," Manely, the attorney for the parents, argued during the trial. "They are promoting religious dogma to all students."
Lawyers for Cobb County disagreed, saying the school board had made a good-faith effort to address questions that inevitably arise during the teaching of evolution.
"Science and religion are related and they're not mutually exclusive," school district attorney Linwood Gunn said. "This sticker was an effort to get past that conflict and to teach good science."
The schools placed the stickers after more than 2,000 parents complained the textbooks presented evolution as fact, without mentioning rival ideas about the beginnings of life.
The stickers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
The case is one of several battles waged in recent years in the Bible Belt over what role evolution should play in science books. Last year, Georgia's education chief proposed a science curriculum that dropped the word "evolution" in favor of "changes over time." That plan was soon dropped amid protests by teachers.
You have to understand, Pops, that this man, now that he's a judge, thinks he is GOD HIMSELF, and therefore knows more than anybody else! It goes to show you that one can get rotten apples in any profession. It seems, though, that there is a higher percentage of egomaniac nuts on the bench than other professions.
Makes me so sick and wondering why I was so glad to serve in that capacity all those years.
The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.
The only criminal class native to the United States is Congress.
There is no "constitutional separation of church and state". No where in the Constitution is this mentioned. Itís not in the Bill of Rights, and itís not even an amendment to the constitution. It is taken out of context from something Thomas Jefferson once said, and that dose not make it law.
Will the Supreme Court some day say what the definition of "is" actually is? If they do will they base their ruling on something Slick Willy once said?
He came to die on a cross of wood, yet he built the hill on which it stood +++