Educational CyberPlayGround ®

A federal judge today declared the teaching of intelligent design in Dover Area School District unconstitutional.

EvolutionFun • Dover • Monkey Trials U.S. FathersChurch v State PreviousNext

Dover PA

"This country wasn't founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution," "This country was founded on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such." ~ Dover Pennsylvania School Board member Bill Buckingham, chair of the curriculum committee, started this fight. He objects to Darwinism. He wants a science book that teaches Christian creationism.

The suit brought by 11 parents is being heard without a jury in Harrisburg by U.S. District Judge John Jones III, whom President Bush appointed to the bench in 2002.

A federal judge today declared the teaching of intelligent design in Dover Area School District unconstitutional, saying an "ill-informed faction on a school board" adopted a policy that violated the separation of church and state. In a far-reaching decision, Judge John E. Jones 3d concluded that intelligent design is not science.
"In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science," Jones wrote. "We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."
He scolded the board's majority for requiring teachers to read a statement to high school biology students that noted "gaps" in Darwin's theory of evolution and directed them to a book on intelligent design in the school library.
"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," Jones said in a 139-page decision. "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."
Jones said those who disagree with the decision - the first-ever federal trial on the teaching of intelligent design - "will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge." But the judge, a Republican appointed to the bench by President Bush, said "this is manifestly not an activist Court."
School board chairwoman, Bernadette Reinking, said as far as she knows the board has no intention of appealing the case. She was one of eight new members elected to the nine-member board in November who oppose the teaching of intelligent design.
"I'm glad that it is finished," Reinking said. "The board wanted some finality to this."

Read the George Bush Appointed U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III Court Decision

DER SPIEGEL in today's account of the judical defeat of "Intelligent Design" wrote as follows: "Richter John Jones erklrte in der Urteilsbegrndung, es sei erstaunlich, dass mehrere Mitglieder des Schulrats stolz ihren Glauben in der ffentlichkeit verkndeten, sich aber nicht scheuten, zu lgen". In translation:"Judge Jon Jones declared in his judgement that it is astonishing, that a number of members of the Schoolcouncil proclaimed proudly their faith, but did not heistate to lie". Astonishing and wonderful of the Judge! The very essence of science is disinterested integrity, and that has been lacking in Intelligent Design and its various mutants.

11/9/05 DOVER, Pa. -- Voters came down hard Tuesday on school board members who backed a statement on intelligent design being read in biology class (National Association of Biology Teachers), ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum (pick out a Science Book).Among the losing incumbents on the Dover, Pa., board were two members who testified in favor of the intelligent design policy at a recently concluded federal trial on the Dover policy: the chairwoman, Sheila Harkins, and Alan Bonsell.

12-13/04 Press Conference Announcing Legal Challenge to "Intelligent Design" Curriculum in PA School District. Article
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and attorneys with Pepper Hamilton LLP will file a federal lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of 11 parents who say that presenting "intelligent design" to students in public school violates their religious liberty by promoting religious beliefs to their children under the guise of science education. The lawsuit will be the first in the nation to challenge the instruction of "intelligent design," which is an assertion that an intelligent, supernatural entity has intervened in the history of life. The "intelligent design" debate gained national attention after the Dover Area School District Board in Pennsylvania voted in October to require science teachers to present this religious view as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution. Dover is believed to be the first school district to mandate such a policy. Parents, scientists, clergy members and attorneys who are challenging the Dover School District policy.

The Dover statement:
Text of the intelligent design statement Dover, Pa., teachers were instructed to read to their students:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, “Of Pandas and People,” is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.
With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.

Evolution on the Front Line
AAAS has played a prominent role in responding to efforts in Kansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere to weaken or compromise the teaching of evolution in public school science classrooms. Here are some background materials on the controversy and links to AAAS resources on evolution.

Science vs. Faith