Dear YES! Families –
Today was a big day for the EUSD yoga program. Nearly two years after our victory in the trial court, this morning Sedlock v. Baird, et al. was called for argument in the Court of Appeal. As expected, the debate was passionate.
Dean Broyles, the attorney for the yoga opponents, was first up. He had the burden of showing the trial court erred in finding the yoga program Constitutional. And the appellate justices made very clear that he was fighting an uphill battle. Mr. Broyles offered up his tired rhetoric about the school district picking “religious winners and losers”. The justices largely ignored such bloated proclamations and instead peppered him with pointed questions about the activity taking place in the yoga classroom. Since his clients had never even observed, let alone participated, in the yoga classes, Mr. Broyles was left to rely upon his expert’s opinion that religion was “pervasive” in those classes based on video evidence. The justices seemed unimpressed.
Next up was the school district’s attorney, followed by CLG partner Dave Peck on behalf of YES!. Mr. Peck reminded the justices that the trial judge found the opinions of Mr. Broyles’ religious expert to be highly biased and “not credible.” The trial court also found that the EUSD curriculum was completely devoid of religion and that there was absolutely no evidence of religious or spiritual instruction in the yoga classrooms. With respect to the video evidence relied upon by the opposing expert, Mr. Peck cited the trial court’s finding that the videos simply depicted children engaged in exercise and nothing more. Mr. Peck urged the court to reject Mr. Broyles’ conspiracy theories and to allow the highly successful yoga program to continue.
While there are few certainties in the legal universe, the three appellate justices seemed unanimous in their rejection of the appeal. The formal opinion will be issued within 90 days and, as always, we will keep you updated. We again thank you for your ongoing support.