In Dover case, federal court holds that it is unconstitutional for public schools to endorse religion by teaching ‘intelligent design’ as science
An opinion issued today by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania represents a victory for the First Amendment’s requirement of government neutrality toward religion, People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas said.
“Today’s ruling is a momentous affirmation of the Constitution’s prohibition of government endorsement of religion,” Neas said. “The court recognized that ‘intelligent design’ is nothing more than religious creationism in disguise, and that, as such, it may not be taught as science in public schools. This decision is a resounding victory for science education, for public school students, and for the Constitution.”
In the opinion, the court struck down a Dover, Pennsylvania, public school board policy mandating that students studying 9th grade biology be made aware of the so-called theory of “intelligent design.” The court held that intelligent design is little more than “creationism re-labeled” and that the board’s policy therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution as well as the Pennsylvania Constitution.
The court excoriated the school board for implementing the policy, holding that the board had “poorly served” the “citizens of the Dover area” and that some school board members had “time and again lie[d] to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.”
Today’s ruling does not prohibit public school students from learning about intelligent design or other religious theories in appropriate social studies courses, such as a course in world religions.