Firing over creationism e-mail leads to appeal

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The former director of the science program for Texas' public schools asked a federal appeals court Monday to revive a lawsuit over her firing for forwarding an e-mail about a forum opposed to teaching creationism.

The agency that runs Texas public schools argued that Christina Castillo Comer's e-mail broke its policy of neutrality toward any potentially controversial issue, including creationism. A lawyer for Comer says the agency has an unwritten, unconstitutional policy of treating creationism as science.

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments Monday in Comer's lawsuit against Robert Scott, commissioner of the Texas Education Agency.

A federal judge in Austin, Texas, dismissed her claims in March 2009. Comer is appealing that decision. The 5th Circuit panel didn't indicate when it will rule.

Comer says she was told to quit or be fired in 2007 after forwarding an e-mail about a presentation by a Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor viewed as opposed to teaching creationism in schools. Her only comment on the forwarded e-mail was "FYI."

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