Monday, August 03, 2009

Court Says Atheists Challenging School Program May Not Proceed Anonymously

In Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Creek, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65818 (D CO, July 22, 2009), a Colorado federal magistrate judge denied plaintiffs' request that they be allowed to proceed using pseudonyms. Plaintiffs were atheists who were challenging as a violation of the Establishment Clause a Colorado school district's adoption of a program known as "40 Developmental Assets." Plaintiffs cited public views toward atheists and the fact that their children were parties to the case. The court held that a mere unsubstantiated potential for adverse public reaction does not justify proceeding anonymously. In particular, the court concluded that the children were not necessary parties to the litigation and criticized plaintiffs for bringing them in unnecessarily to justify the parents' proceeding under pseudonyms. The amended complaint in the case was filed after an earlier complaint challenging the same program was dismissed. (See prior posting.)