Tuesday, December 20, 2005

God And Man In Pennsylvania: Part VII

In the struggle between supporters of the teaching of Intelligent Design in public school science classes and those who support Traditional Science curricula, the forces of Traditional Science have won a clear-cut victory at the hard-fought Battle Of Dover:
A Pennsylvania school district cannot require the teaching of intelligent design in high school biology classes, a federal judge ruled in a case that may influence other challenges to the theory of evolution.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, ruled today that the Dover, Pennsylvania school board can't force the teaching of intelligent design, a theory that claims that the universe is too complex to have developed randomly and must have been designed by a superior power. The board in October 2004 ordered that intelligent design be introduced alongside the theory that life evolved by natural selection.

``To preserve the separation of church and state'' mandated by the First Amendment, the Dover Area School District is barred from maintaining the ID policy in any school, Jones wrote. ``The students, parents and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.''

The six-week trial drew national attention as the first over the merits of intelligent design. Religious conservatives have proposed introducing the theory in other school districts, a move critics claim would violate a 200-year-old ``wall of separation'' between church and state.

``Since it's the first such ruling, if you are a school board lawyer and your job is to keep your school board out of trouble, you will be paying attention to what the district court says in Pennsylvania,'' said Brian Landsberg, constitutional law professor at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, California.
As with just about all of these court cases, my opinion is that the litigation over intelligent design will just go on and on and on. And just like the controversy surrounding the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, all this uncertainty will not good for children or educators. My guess is that this litigation will likely last for decades and, like the Flag Pledge, the controversy over intelligent design will finally wind-up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I just wish that the United States Supreme Court would hurry-up and decide these disputes once and for all so that those of us who are actually tasked with teaching children in the classroom will know, once and for all, where we stand. This endless litigation is a waste of time and valuable resources.

I'll say one thing for those nine eight unelected, unaccountable, and appointed-for-life individuals sitting on the Supreme Court Lawmaking Body: Once they overturn a law, (or create a new one where none existed) that law remains overturned or created. (Unless, of course, 5 justices later change their minds.)

As for the situation in Dover, last November the voters in the Dover school district voted 8 of the 9 board members out of office who had supported the teaching of I.D. as well as the reading of
this statement in the district's high school science classes.

So I guess the folks in Dover have made their preferences clear to their elected officials: whatever it is, Intelligent Design isn't science.

Background: Our series, God And Man In Pennsylvania:
Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

Related: Joanne Jacobs, The Politburo Diktat, Pharyngula, Edweek's In Other News, A Shrewdness of Apes

Update: (12/21) The Dover school district has announced that there will be no appeal.
Update: (12/22) John G. West, of The Discovery Institute, (the chief proponents of Intelligent Design) responds to the Dover decision.
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