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Pa. Judge Rules Against 'Intelligent Design'

Pa. Judge Rules Against 'Intelligent Design'

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 20, 2005

A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled today that a public school district in the central part of the state cannot require the inclusion of "intelligent design" in biology classes as an alternative to evolution.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, issuing his decision in a case that was heard in the fall, ruled that the school board in Dover, Pa., violated the Constitution when it ordered high school biology teachers to read to students a short statement that cast doubt on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and offered intelligent design as an alternative theory on the origin and development of life.

The case produced one of the biggest courtroom battles over evolution since the landmark "Scopes Monkey Trial" in 1925, and it was closely watched in other jurisdictions that have seen heated debates between opponents and advocates of Darwin's groundbreaking 19th century theory.

After the Dover school board issued the requirement last year, 11 parents filed a lawsuit in federal court to block it on grounds that intelligent design was actually a thinly veiled new version of biblical creationism, which the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled cannot be taught in public schools.

In the meantime, all eight of the school board incumbents who favored teaching intelligent design were defeated in an election in November by candidates who opposed including it in the curriculum.

In his ruling today, Jones said several members of the Dover Area School Board repeatedly lied during the trial to cover their motives for promoting intelligent design even as they professed religious beliefs, the Associated Press reported.

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID [Intelligent Design] Policy," Jones wrote.

Jones said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors," adding that he did not believe the concept should not be studied and discussed, AP reported. But he concluded that "it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom."

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