Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Duke Law Professor: Dover Policy Violates Establishment Clause

The Dover, Pa., school board policy mandating that high school biology classes cover "alternatives" to evolution, including the idea of "intelligent design," violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a Duke University constitutional law expert says.

"Almost 20 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a state law that required 'balanced treatment,' that creationism be taught alongside evolution," said Erwin Chemerinsky, the Alston & Bird Professor of Law at Duke's School of Law.

"The Supreme Court invalidated this statute and explained that evolution is a scientific theory accounting for the origin of human life, while creationism is religion's answer. The Court said that there is no secular purpose in having creationism taught in the schools."

"'Intelligent design' is the new label for the religious account of the origins of human life," Chemerinsky said. "The Dover policy requiring it to be taught violates the Establishment Clause because again there is no secular purpose. It is the schools inculcating religious views and religious values. This, above all, the Supreme Court has held, violates the First Amendment."


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