Federal Judge Strikes Down Intelligent Design Teaching

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III has struck down the Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School Board’s requirement that “intelligent design” be mentioned in biology courses as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Court: No ‘intelligent design’ in class (AP)

“Intelligent design” cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial. Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said. Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives even while professing religious beliefs, he said.

The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation. “The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy,” Jones wrote.

This one was a no-brainer. There is no secular purpose for including this pseudo-science in the curriculum.

Previously at OTB:

FILED UNDER: Education, Law and the Courts, Science & Technology, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. M. Murcek says:

    This was the right decision. Of course, the voters mooted it already by tossing the ID pushing school board members out in the last election.

    What makes me sad is that, as a believer, I get regularly bashed over the head by idiots who think the ID crowd speaks for me. They don’t. Neither do Falwell or Pat Robertson.

    ID is one of those stalking horses that know-nothing types are so adept at coming up with. Like the motorcyclist riding the yellow line through a traffic jam, they make those stuck in traffic think all riders are idiots, though that’s just not the case.

    It’s possible to be a believer and also be a thoughtful, sane human being, regardless of what the so-called “brights” might like everyone to believe.

    I get sick and tired of even having to say it…

  2. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘This one was a no-brainer.’

    ‘requirement that “intelligent design” be mentioned in biology courses as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.’

    Sorry but there seems to a lot of ‘no-brainer’ going around here. While I agree that ID is religious theory and should be rightly identified as so how is discussing it or even requiring it ‘an unconstitutional establishment of religion.’? It doesn’t establish anything.

  3. none says:

    icallm,

    Your absolutely right! While we’re at it, lets include Kipling’s “how the elephant got it’s trunk.”

  4. James Joyner says:

    M. Murcek: Agreed all ’round.

    ICallMasICM: The ruling “no brainer” for the judge in terms of decades of case law on the subject. Whether the Framers intended that interpretation, let alone would have applied “Congress shall make no law…” to a local school board, is another question. (The short answer is No.) But this is very much settled law at this point.

  5. LJD says:

    At least we don’t have to worry about climbing illiteracy rates… Oh, wait a sec…

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    LJD,

    Maybe now we can focus on the climbing illiteracy rates. At least now we wont be wasting our time with psuedo-science.

  7. Anderson says:

    Two quotes from the end of the 139-page op:

    The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy. * * *

    Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a
    constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial.

    Ka-CHING! as they used to say.

  8. Fersboo says:

    Steve Verdon wrote:

    Maybe now we can focus on the climbing illiteracy rates. At least now we wont be wasting our time with psuedo-science.

    Yeah, no sense adding another psuedo-science to the countless ones used and taught currently.

  9. McGehee says:

    Right — instead they can concentrate on teaching pseudo-math, pseudo-history, and pseudo-civics.

  10. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘Maybe now we can focus on the climbing illiteracy rates. At least now we wont be wasting our time with psuedo-science.’

    At least in my kids schools they teach literacy in ‘literacy arts’ class and pseudo-science in science class.

    ‘Whether the Framers intended that interpretation, let alone would have applied “Congress shall make no law…” to a local school board, is another question. (The short answer is No.) But this is very much settled law at this point.’

    Wha…? I agree that it’s settled that it doesn’t establish religion and that it’s not the framers intention to have the courts dictate the school curriculum. But aren’t judges supposed to come up with an actual valid reason that this somehow applies to their role or something like that?

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Psuedo-math?

    ICallM,

    The judge was very, very thorough in his decision. He addressed the religious nature of ID (it actually is an argument that goes back over 600 years to Thomas Aquinas), that ID is not science, that a reasonable student or adult wold conclude the Dover policy endorssed relgion. The judge looked at quotes by prominent ID proponents such as Behe, Dembski, etc. That ID is religion, junk science and bad educational policy is extremely clear.

  12. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘that a reasonable student or adult wold conclude the Dover policy endorssed relgion. ‘

    ‘That ID is religion, junk science and bad educational policy is extremely clear.’

    It can be all those things and more but it doesn’t establish religion and a reasonable person can see that. If the school requires spelling and vocabulary

    ‘wold’ ‘endorssed relgion’

    you’re in trouble.

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    ‘wold’ ‘endorssed relgion’

    you’re in trouble.

    Man, spelling flames are lame, ICallMasICM.

    If that is all you got, YHL.

    HAND.

  14. Anderson says:

    Well, if we’re going to talk spelling, it’s “pseudo.”

  15. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘Man, spelling flames are lame, ICallMasICM.’

    It was a joke – school requirements – spelling and ummm…my name is spelled correctly.

  16. Maybe now we can focus on the climbing illiteracy rates. At least now we wont be wasting our time with psuedo-science [sic].

    Don’t relax yet. Precisely because there will be no appeal, this ruling applies only to Judge Jones’ district in the federal court system. It sets a precedent, but the other courts aren’t required to follow it.

  17. Steve says:

    “These judges show their not intellegent just mindless blabbering idiots”

    Oh come on. Are you for real? Labelling them as idiots and you can’t even spell intelligent, even when this board comes with a spell checker!

    I can’t believe somebody who follows ID would be incapable even of spelling it!

    It’s not someone pretending just for a lark is it?