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Antievolution legislation in Maryland


House Bill 1531 (PDF), introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates on February 16, 2006, would, if enacted, establish the "Teachers Academic Freedom Act" and the "Faculty Academic Freedom Act" in order to "expressly protect the right of teachers identified by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard ... to present scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories; and [to] expressly protect the right of students to hold a position on any views." The bill's sole sponsor is Emmett C. Burns, Jr. (D-District 10); after its first reading, the bill was assigned to the House Rules and Executive Nominations committee.

HB 1531 would provide that teachers in Maryland's public schools and faculty members in Maryland's public institutions of higher education "shall have the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific information to [sic] the full range of scientific views in any curricula or course of learning"; the phrase "the full range of scientific views" is evidently taken from the so-called Santorum language, which was in fact stripped from the federal No Child Left Behind act. A subsequent provision repeats the phrase "the full range of scientific views," while adding, "including intelligent design."

A number of provisions attempt to immunize the bill from the charge that it would allow the teaching of religious doctrines and discredited science: the bill forbids instructors to "stress any particular denomination, sectarian, or religious doctrine or belief" while providing "supporting evidence on the theory of intelligent design," for example, and insists that it is not to be construed as protecting the teaching of "a view that lacks published or empirical or observational support." HB 1531 resembles two antievolution bills introduced in the Alabama legislature in 2006, although it treats K-12 teachers and college instructors separately.