26 Mar 2008

Los Angeles, California

Judge denies Motion for Summary Judgment against CAPEEM

California Parents for the Equalization of Educational Materials (CAPEEM) scored a major victory on Tuesday when Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr. of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of California rejected the defendants’ motion to dismiss CAPEEM’s lawsuit to correct inaccuracies in sixth grade history textbooks. CAPEEM’s complaint contends that the process to adopt the textbooks discriminated against Hindus and that the textbooks indulge in indoctrination of Abrahamic religions while using disparaging language against Hinduism.

The motion for summary judgment asking for the dismissal of the lawsuit was filed by the office of California’s Attorney General on behalf of the officials of the State Board of Education and the California Department of Education. Judge Damrell rejected the claim that an earlier ruling in a lawsuit filed in a state court by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) had definitively settled the issues raised by CAPEEM in its lawsuit.

The judge pointed out that the ruling in the HAF case strengthened CAPEEM’s claim of discrimination against its members. Judge Damrell noted, “the superior court found in favor of the HAF plaintiffs on their state APA claim; arguably, this finding lends support to CAPEEM’s claims in this case that defendants conducted the adoption process in a manner that was discriminatory.”

The judge also agreed with CAPEEM’s claim that the issues in the two cases were different: “… Similarly, the superior court concluded the textbooks at issue there did not violate the state standards for content, as promulgated by defendants. This court could find defendants violated the Establishment Clause without reaching a judgment that is inconsistent with that of the superior court; this court could find that the underlying standards themselves violate the Establishment Clause.”

Reacting to the judgment, Arvind Kumar, a director of CAPEEM said, “the arguments in the Defendants’ motion posed the biggest challenge to us so far and we are happy to have won this victory. We can now focus our energies on our main claims in the lawsuit.”

CAPEEM’s attorneys Venkat Balasubramani and Michael Newdow expressed satisfaction with the order. This was the third motion filed by the defendants against CAPEEM in attempts to seek summary dismissal of the lawsuit.

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