Judge throws book at Dover Board in ruling

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On December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones III, In The United States District Court For The Middle District Of Pennsylvania, ruled that the Dover District School Board violated the US Constitution when they changed the 9th grade Biology curriculum to include Intelligent Design (ID).

Judge Jones found:

1. The Board’s actions violated the establishment clause and failed the “purpose” and “effect” prongs of the Lemon Test.

2. That ID is NOT science and that is in fact “creation science” with a different label.

3. The Board members at the heart of the case, the ones’ who led the effort to put ID in the curriculum, lied under oath and that the Board attempted to hide their real intentions about the change after they found out it might cause a legal case.

4. While ID is not appropriate for the science classroom, the court wasn’t saying it couldn’t be studied in a more appropriate context.

The ruling is 139 pages and Jones goes into a great detail about how he came to his conclusion. It is a good read for anyone who supports real science and who need some good points to make should the ID fight come to your area – and it probably will.

As a friend of mine said, the ruling won’t stop ID supporters. But there is enough in this ruling to seriously hurt their agenda for some time. This why the chief group that supports ID – the Discovery Institute – refused to get personally involved in the case.

Here is a link to the full PDF file of the decision:

Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover School District, et al.

I didn’t want to post the entire ruling but I did want to post a telling portion of the ruling that highlights a thread through out all the recent challenges to Evolution and the claims that the science classroom needs to be fair:

In fact, one unfortunate theme in this case is the striking ignorance concerning the concept of ID amongst Board members. Conspicuously, Board members who voted for the curriculum change testified at trial that they had utterly no grasp of ID. To illustrate, consider that Geesey testified she did not understand the substance of the curriculum change, yet she voted for it. Moreover, as she indicated on multiple occasions, in voting for the curriculum change, Geesy deferred completely to Bonsell and Buckingham. Second, Buckingham, Chair of the Curriculum Committee at the time, admitted that he had no basis to know whether ID amounted to good science as of the time of his first deposition, which was two and a half months after the ID Policy was approved, yet he voted for the curriculum change. Third, Cleaver voted for the curriculum change despite the teachers’ objections, based upon assurances from Bonsell. Cleaver admittedly knew nothing about ID, including the words comprising the phrase, as she consistently referred to ID as “intelligence design” throughout her testimony. In addition, Cleaver was bereft of any understanding of Pandas except that Spahr had said it was not a good science book which should not be used in high school. In addition, Superintendent Nilsen’s entire understanding of ID was that “evolution has a design.” Despite this collective failure to understand the concept of ID, which six Board members nonetheless felt was appropriate to add to ninth grade biology class to improve science education, the Board never heard from any person or organization with scientific expertise about the curriculum change, save for consistent but unwelcome advices from the District’s science teachers who uniformly opposed the change.

Kitzmiller Decision 12/20/2005 pp 121-122

Also another troubling result of these types of debates are the attempts to suppress dissent. In an earlier post on this case there was a quote of testimony of a board member who resigned who had her religion called into question simply because she was against the curriculum change.

In the court ruling, Judge Jones pointed this out with the following:

Additionally, at the following meeting, Board member Wenrich, who opposed the expedited vote on October 18, 2004 and engaged in parliamentary measures to have the vote delayed until the community could properly debate the issue while considering the science teachers’ position, resigned and stated the following:

I was referred to as unpatriotic, and my religious beliefs
were questioned. I served in the U.S. Army for 11 years
and six years on the board. Seventeen years of my life
have been devoted to public service, and my religion is
personal. It’s between me, God, and my pastor.

Kitzmiller Decision 12/20/2005 pp 124-125

Also of note was the Judge taking to task the defendants who lied under oath. Jones said:

“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.”

Kitzmiller Decision 12/20/2005 pg 137

William Buckingham, one of those who was less than truthful, said from his new home in North Carolina:

“I’m still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me anywhere in the Constitution where there’s a separation of church and state,” he said. “We didn’t lose; we were robbed.”

Judge Rules Against Pa. Biology Curriculum

Well, Mr Buckingham, the Judge provided 139 pages of why your policy was illegal. Deal with it. You lost.


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