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Settlement in Hurst v. Newman


The lawsuit in Hurst et al. v. Newman et al. -- in which eleven parents challenged the constitutionality of a four-week intersession course on "The Philosophy of Design" (formerly "The Philosophy of Intelligent Design") at Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec, California -- was settled on January 17, 2006. In the settlement, the defendants agreed to end the class and to ensure that no school in the El Tejon School District, including Frazier Mountain High School, "shall offer, presently or in the future, the course entitled 'Philosophy of Design' or 'Philosophy of Intelligent Design' or any other course that promotes or endorses creationism, creation science, or intelligent design."

That "The Philosophy of Design" class was aimed at promoting creationism was amply clear from the course syllabus, which was originally dominated by young-earth creationist materials, and was then revised to include mainly "intelligent design" materials. Moreover, one of the students taking the course told CNN (January 14, 2006; quoted by Chris Mooney), "I've learned that evolution has become, over the years, more and more -- more and more people decide that it's not completely true and that there has to be another belief or another thing that replaces it. ... [i.e.,] an intelligent designer ... [i.e.,] God, the Christian God who created earth in 6 days."

In a press release dated January 17, 2006, Americans United Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan commented, "This course was far from intelligently designed. ... It was an infomercial for creationism and its offshoot, intelligent design. The class would never have survived a court challenge, and the board of trustees made the right call by pulling the plug on it." NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott, who submitted a witness affidavit to the court on behalf of the plaintiffs, commented, "Other school districts contemplating teaching 'intelligent design' would be well-advised to learn from the lessons of Dover and El Tejon."