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Scott and Branch: "Design on trial"


The trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover -- the first legal challenge to the constitutionality of teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools -- was one of the five biggest stories in Bioscience for 2005, in the view of The Scientist (December 5, 2005). NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branch provided a brief assessment for the journal, writing, "Kitzmiller v. Dover represents the most important American creationism/evolution trial in 23 years." Comparing the trial with 1982's trial in McLean v. Arkansas, Scott and Branch note that "With the recent electoral rout of the Dover school board, the defendants are unlikely to appeal if the plaintiffs prevail. Because higher courts will thus remain mute on the constitutionality of teaching ID, additional Dovers may be anticipated, until the issue finally reaches the Supreme Court." Meanwhile, they add, "savvier antievolutionists are likely to emulate the Kansas state board of education by promoting policies impugning evolution without directly requiring creationism" -- a strategy that will be jeopardized if the decision in Selman v. Cobb County (holding that evolution disclaimers are unconstitutional) is upheld on appeal.