The judge in Dover strikes down ID. It's a solid and scathing judgment that declares teaching Intelligent Design in the schools is unconstitutional. The decision by Judge Jones is available—it's joyful reading for us on the side of science. Here are a few excerpts:
Plaintiffs accurately submit that the disclaimer mimics the one that the Fifth Circuit struck down as unconstitutional in Freiler in two key aspects. First, while encouraging students to keep an open mind and explore alternatives to evolution, it offers no scientific alternative; instead, the only alternative offered is an inherently religious one, namely, ID. 43 Freiler, 185 F.3d at 344-47 (disclaimer urging students to "exercise critical thinking and gather all information possible and closely examine each alternative toward forming an opinion" referenced "Biblical version of Creation" as the only alternative theory, thus "encourag[ing] students to read and meditate upon religion in general and the "Biblical version of Creation" in particular.) Whether a student accepts the Board's invitation to explore Pandas, and reads a creationist text, or follows the Board's other suggestion and discusses "Origins of Life" with family members, that objective student can reasonably infer that the District"s favored view is a religious one, and that the District is accordingly sponsoring a form of religion. Second, by directing students to their families to learn about the "Origins of Life," the paragraph performs the exact same function as did the Freiler disclaimer: It "reminds school children that they can rightly maintain beliefs taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life," thereby stifling the critical thinking that the class's study of evolutionary theory might otherwise prompt, to protect a religious view from what the Board considers to be a threat. Id. at 345 (because disclaimer effectively told students "that evolution as taught in the classroom need not affect what they already know," it sent a message that was "contrary to an intent to encourage critical thinking, which requires that students approach new concepts with an open mind and willingness to alter and shift existing viewpoints").
This is the best part to me…
To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.
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.
With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.
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. 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.
Merry Kitzmas, everyone!