Judge Denies Injunction Against CAIR Activity in San Diego Schools
Parents of some San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) students lost their bid to get a Federal judge to inhibit the district from working with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) had filed a motion for preliminary injunction on the parents’ behalf in March.
School board officials voted in April 2017 to enter into a formal partnership with CAIR, but modified the plan three months later. At their July meeting, the board voted to move away from a formal partnership with CAIR and establish an intercultural committee comprised of people from different religions and communities instead. FCDF called this a “religious gerrymander” built around CAIR, and claimed that the school district’s anti-bullying/anti-
Federal Judge Cynthia Bashant ruled on Tuesday that the plaintiffs failed to meet the burden of proof for their objection to obtain the injunction. She wrote that the parents had not shown they were subjected to “irreparable harm” from the policy.
Bashant ruled that California’s No Aid Clause has never been interpreted to “require governmental hostility to religion, nor to prohibit a religious institution from receiving an indirect, remote, and incidental benefit when there exists ‘a secular primary purpose.'”
She also shot down FCDF’s claim that the school district placed “taxpayer money under the direction of a sectarian organization,” because the JCDF did not provide evidence that CAIR directed the SDUSD’s use of funds. Her ruling described the acquisition of the CAIR-recommended textbooks as consistent with California’s No Aid Clause.
Bashant noted that there was no evidence to support the plaintiffs’ belief that the District “lavishes” Muslim students with “benefits” not received by students of other religions. And “the Revised Policy largely blunts Plaintiffs’ claims about unequal benefit or unequal benefit or ‘special treatment’ for Muslim students,” Bashant wrote.
Her ruling says that the Establishment Clause was not violated because the Islamophobia curriculum served the secular purpose of deterring bullying. The ruling also upheld the school district’s use of the CAIR report to justify the creation of the anti-Islamophobia curriculum, saying that it was not a case in which “significant, admitted flaws in methodology” undermine the existence of a “compelling interest.” This, even though district statistics show that only two students in the entire school district were bullied because they were Muslim.
“The judge was going to rule against us no matter what. We are most likely going to appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit, and if we get a favorable panel, then we can get an injunction pending appeal. Her analysis about the Establishment Clause is clearly wrong,” FCDF Executive Director Dan Piedra told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
John Rossomando is a senior analyst at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.